One man’s trash becomes another’s crafts and activities

 Commentary by Rachel Anne Spencer
Times-News correspondent

This time of year, many churches are busy choosing or creating Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs, summer camps are gearing up and parents are looking for fun ways to keep the kids busy. Many are planning for lots of activities and crafts. Churches, day care centers and summer camps have catalogs of “ready-made” programs or curriculum options that include craft ideas, as well as loads of pre-packaged craft kits available for purchase.

I’d like to challenge you all to take the time to investigate using recycled items for your crafts and activities. Show kids fun ways to reuse items that would normally be thrown away; hopefully, you’ll get them thinking about other ways to be good stewards of their Earth. Plus, using recycled items can save money by reducing the amount of supplies purchased.

One year, my church used the “Dive Deep Into God’s Love” VBS theme. My mom researched ocean-themed crafts and ended up making adorable “bottle fish” to hang as decorations. We also cut worn-out pool noodles to look like coral and even used some as obstacles for games. The fish were made from empty 2-liter soda bottles and given a new life with a bit of paint, leftover streamers, staples, a couple of old pony beads, scrap paper and string. These bottles might have been recycled the traditional way or ended up in a landfill, but instead they ended up being “the catch of the day.”

Of course, we’ve recycled plastic bottles into bracelets, banks, bird feeders and even snow globes, but you can use a lot more than just your bin recyclables and garbage. How about using old jeans to make the legs into water bottle carriers or the back pockets into cute purses? Old CDs can make shiny art, picture frames, spinning tops and sun catchers. Reuse old mint or small coffee tins to create decorated storage containers or banks to hold your money.

Even old golf balls can be reused in games and we’ve used them to make paperweights, Christmas ornaments, note keepers and fun art objects that are really “up to par.” Old T-shirts can make fun friendship autograph mementos, soft and attractive pillow buddies and even be transformed into cute rugs by cutting shirts into strips that are woven on a hula hoop frame. You can even create recycled grocery bags.

You don’t have to be some super-crafty genius to make or introduce recycled crafts to others. It is easy to find recycled ideas that will still fit into any VBS theme already selected. Make the extra effort to be good stewards; search “recycled crafts and activities” online or in books, and I guarantee that you’ll find plenty of ideas for all age groups. Get creative and choose to reuse.

 Rachel Anne Spencer is a home-schooled junior and Teens & Twenties writer.


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