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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink

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Crafty Clues

Around the house, fix items that are broken, or discard them and get new ones that work. Try to purchase appliances and tools that do several jobs, rather than buying a different tool for each job. A food processor is a good example.

Reducing waste is part of a certain mind set. Experts who try to train people to cut back on disposables and recycle say that most of us fall into one of three categories. People in the first category have been recycling and thinking environmentally since they could walk. It's completely second nature to them. People of the second category would probably do something if they had more information or were reminded; they just don't think about it. And people of the third category won't do it no matter what. They're either resistant to change or they simply don't care. Hopefully, this last group will shrink in size as education and environmental consciousness grows.

If you are like most parents, you'd like your children to fall into the first group, and how you teach them, both by what you say and what you do, will have a huge impact. One way you can set an example is to focus on reducing waste at home in general, and when doing crafts in particular. You can start by teaching your kids the four Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink. You can reduce the amount of trash you have each week by:

  • Buying things with less packaging

  • Buying in bulk to reduce packaging

  • Making food (and crafts supplies like clays and paints) from scratch

  • Growing your own fruits, herbs, and vegetables

  • Cooking in large batches so you can buy in bulk

You can reuse many of the things you normally discard. That's what this article is about. But getting in the reuse habit involves changing how you think in many cases. Sometimes it means getting organized so you don't purchase what you already have. (How many times have you gone to look for an item and couldn't find it, then purchased a new one, only to find the old one a week or two later?)

This is particularly true in crafting. When you think crafts, think, "What do I have on hand?" Instead of going out to buy new materials. There are lots of great new products on the market and they have their place, but whenever possible, think of crafts as a way of using up what you already have.

Recycling is the next step in the chain. After you reduce the amount of products you buy, and reuse as many items as possible, you should only be recycling or finally throwing away a bare minimum. At least, that's the goal.

Find out what your town's recycling program is – what is recycled and what isn't. If your town's recycling department won't take a particular item, some other organization might. Know what your options are. If your area doesn't recycle at all or if recycling is limited, work on getting that changed. Remember, it takes energy to recycle, so whenever you can reduce or reuse materials, you're ahead of the game.

Finally, rethink when it comes to your garbage. Look for items with reduced packaging. Buy products made from recycled materials. Don't throw away what can be reused or recycled.

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More on: Crafts for Kids

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crafts with Kids © 1998 by Georgene Lockwood. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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