If I gave you some paper and pencils, you would expect to write or draw.
Paint, brushes and canvas could indicate a picture to be painted.
Coloured paper scraps, scissors and glue would tempt you to make a collage.
But, a cardboard roll or box, a tin can or plastic bag – these represent endless possibilities.
That’s why making things from recyclables takes creativity to a whole new level.
CREATIVE RECYCLING = TURNING OBSTACLES INTO POSSIBILITIES
From a very basic point of view, the obstacle is rubbish. The possibility is what you can transform it into so it doesn’t end up in landfill.
When we train ourselves to see the possibilities in rubbish, we are also training ourselves to see the possibilities in other obstacles in life. What an amazing skill that is.
Start this training at an early age and the very real challenges that face our children become invitations to innovation.
For instance, some predict that 40 per cent of jobs will be lost to automation within the next 10 to 15 years. Where does that leave our children?
According to research by job site Indeed, it is the jobs requiring unique human qualities such as creativity that will remain safe from automation.
The most promising careers for the future will be those that complement the work of new technologies or which rely heavily on ‘human’ qualities, such as social interaction or creativity, that cannot be easily replicated by a computer.
Callam Pickering, Indeed’s APAC economist.
That creativity we taught our kids when they were young will not only ensure they stay employable but could also result in them inventing whole new careers for others.
THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
If necessity is the mother of invention, then many of us are lost. We don’t really NEED anything. We can get our information and entertainment at the push of a button. Social platforms make it easy to seek help from others. We can have our food and groceries delivered, our washing done at the laundromat and shop online for anything we want. Our physical comfort is ensured with fans, heaters and air conditioning.
This isn’t the case for everyone. In the refugee camps of the Algerian desert, refugees were forced to put up with the uncomfortable conditions caused by fierce wind and sun. That was until an engineer designed and built circular houses from plastic bottles. These have worked wonders to protect the people from the harsh weather conditions.
Without the necessity to search for solutions for comfortable survival – the mother of invention – it is important to inspire children to be creative.
Teaching creativity is as important as teaching literacy.
Sir Ken Robinson
While it’s wonderful to set kids up with specific art projects, encouraging them to come up with their own ideas is what creates the innovators and inventors of tomorrow.
A lot of amazing things happen when you have children work with recyclables. For starters, they begin to understand where things come from – and where they end up. This is a great opportunity to teach them to care for their environment.
CREATIVE RECYCLING – THE PROCESS
Wacky Workshops students are given the ‘world superhero’ award when they work out a clever way to recreate the old into the new. This is a great way to empower children.
This encourages them to be protectors of the planet and make positive contributions to society.
Even more empowering is the confidence gained when the children have come up with their own designs, not structured by step by step instructions.
During my Wacky Workshops Remarkable Recycling classes, I usually guide the students through a few planned creative recycling projects to help them see the possibilities in using recyclables. This fires up their imagination and confidence enough that they can then come up with their own ideas.
Then it’s time for the Wacky challenge. Ransack the recycling crate to design and make your own special creation.
The boy who loves to play with cars may design a car from egg cartons and cardboard ribbon rolls.
The girl who loves rainbows may design a rainbow from discarded ribbon or colourful plastic lids.
The child who favours a specific animal may design one for themselves using tins and cardboard rolls.
Or perhaps a pirate ship made from a box and cardboard rolls.
Or a robot.
FINDING THE POSSIBILITIES IN OBSTACLES
Sometimes, their plan doesn’t work. Maybe the glue isn’t strong enough. Maybe the markers they want to use don’t show up on the materials they have chosen.
This is where the experimentation comes in. By trial and error, they find a way to make it work. They are perfecting problem-solving skills.
This is where the magic happens. They learn to see possibilities in the obstacles. An important life skill.
In this way, we can encourage our children to be resilient and have a ‘can-do’ attitude.
As the creative recycling experimentation continues, the students’ curiosity is aroused and they become even more motivated to find a solution.
They start making connections between seemingly disparate ideas, which is what creativity is all about. They become original thinkers.
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, the just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
The pride they feel from their creations is immeasurable and gives them the confidence to keep experimenting and creating.
CREATIVE RECYCLING IN ART
Using recyclables in art is not a new concept. Artists have been using creative recycling for years.
It gained recognition during the 1980s when museums and galleries started opening their doors to these works.
This makes a lot of sense, as it is cost-effective. It also provides artists with the opportunity to highlight some of the world’s rubbish and waste issues.
Children are naturally creative and curious. However, these days they are often spoon fed information through the education system and online activities.
The challenge is to keep that creativity and curiosity alive.
While structured art and crafts projects help with the creativity, nothing beats the challenge of reinventing things for inspiring curiosity and innovation.
Creative recycling – transforming everyday items we would normally throw away – has the added bonus of helping them feel they are making a positive contribution to the world.
Check out these fun recycling projects to get you started.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.