Thanks to My Kids

2014-12-07 22.56.23Time and time again, I’m reminded that my children are my first and biggest inspiration for upcycling and recycling.

There’s the obvious parental urge to leave them a more sustainable world, which prompts frequent conversations about the footprint we create with the energy we consume, the trash we make, and the things we buy. But, more than that, there’s the upcycling opportunities they make for me, almost daily.

A good night’s sleep seems to be all they need to outgrow their jeans (thus, the oodles of upcycled denim creations in our home). They consume their fair share of food and drink, challenging me to find some way or someone to give all those empty containers a second life. And they do what kids have done for generations: start a project and not finish it.

Of the three men I live with, our youngest son is the most inclined to sit alongside me when I’m crafting. I try not to deny his pleas to do what I’m doing – which means he needs to use what I’m using. Sometimes this leads to an amazing creation, the kind that warrants space in his scrapbook or on a shelf in our home. But, more often than not, this leads to a half-finished or hurriedly finished project that involves supplies too precious to just recycle them. Case in point, the year he got his hands on the cardboard cones.

A friend gifted me with four nice, heavy cardboard cones that I planned to make into mini Christmas trees and use as decorations or maybe gifts. Our son was about 5 at the time and thought he was helping by making them look “more like trees” and used his crayons and markers to color them green. We placed them on our mantle that year and I tucked them away with our Christmas decorations. Five years later – long after he’s forgotten about these creations and working on them when he’s not home or asleep – I’m now upcycling them into the decorations/gifts I originally planned to make.

Time (and shoddy storage) left them a little too dinged up to cover with paper or paint, but a layer of twine is thick enough to hide almost any imperfection. If you’ve never wrapped a bottle or other object in twine or string or yarn, the secret is glue. I like using a glue stick, because it doesn’t drip and I can work on the project in my lap. Just slather some glue on the first couple of inches of your object, then wrap with twine/string/yarn; cover the next inch or so with glue, then wrap some more, and repeat, until it’s covered.

I may embellish them with brass buttons or beads, or leave them plain, winter white. More important, I will leave them on our mantle this year and every year – partly because I like them, but mostly because I know what’s underneath.