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Have you ever stopped to think about how much trash your family produces? Here are some frightening facts:
- Each American generates 4.4 pounds of trash daily.
- Americans generate 254 million tons of trash per year.
- Americans throw away enough paper annually to build a 12 foot high wall from Seattle to New York every year.
- We throw out 22 billion plastic bottles yearly.
- It would take 300 laps around the equator to line up all the paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons disposed of annually
Fortunately, we can take some important steps to curtail the trash sent to the landfill. First, we can recycle the materials; over a third of the garbage in the United States is now recycled. We can also reduce the amount of products we use that create the waste to begin with, such as plastic ware, plastic water bottles, paper plates, and print materials. Finally, we can reuse what we have in creative ways.
One way to get your kids involved in some old-fashioned family fun is to make your own games with materials that you would otherwise throw out. DIY green projects are the perfect way to spend time with your children, spark innovation and creativity, and teach them about environmental issues. By using recycled materials in every project, you are making a dent in your garbage pile, while also saving money to develop interesting games to enjoy at home.
Here are a few examples of spectacular trash-to-treasure DIY games for your family to get started on thanks to Mark Cop of Foosball Zone.
If you aren’t sure what foosball is, you may know it under a different name such as tabletop soccer. The game uses rods that have players mounted to them. The only way to move the players is by pushing or turning the rods. To make your own foosball game, you need one shoebox, a ping pong ball, several plastic straws, and a few clothespins. First, cut our rectangles on each side for the goals. Then poke holes on the longer side of a shoebox for the plastic straws that will serve as your foosball rods. Next, place the straws in those holes on the sides. Don’t forget to fill the straws with wooden dowels so that they don’t bend during the game. Every rod will need a few players on it. You can use old clothespins for the players. Paint them two different colors so they represent the competing teams. Voila, you have your own mini foosball game!
Everyone is familiar with this game, even if they know it by a different name. The main goal is to catch the plastic ball with the bottle. For this game you will need a plastic bottle, a string, and a plastic ball (it can be a ping pong ball, for example). Cut the plastic bottle in half and remove the bottom part of the bottle. Your children will have fun decorating the top part to give it a special design. Next, make two holes on the plastic ball (one across from the other) and use a needle to pull the thread through the entire ball. On the other end, tie a knot and glue a knot to the ball so it won’t move. Finally, tie the other part of the thread to the bottom of the bottle. Your kids will love trying to get the ball in the bottle. Check out some examples.
Tic Tac Toe
Every kid loves to play this timeless game. To make your own Tic Tac Toe board you will need 10 plastic bottle caps and one piece of cardboard for the surface. You can paint the plastic caps two different colors or draw X’s and O’s on them to differentiate the two teams. Have fun with it by gluing on sequins, felt, or glitter, or adding stickers. Next, draw a grid consisting of two horizontal and two vertical lines to form nine sections. You can use straws that you were about to throw away or some old pipe cleaners or cue-tips lying around your house. Your kids will have so much fun decorating the board and game pieces, and then of course trying to beat each other.
Tin Can Bowling
Old tin cans are a good resource to use to create games because they are strong and durable. To make a tin can bowling set, all you need are nine tin cans and one heavy ball. The first step is to clean the tin cans thoroughly with safe, eco-friendly cleaning products. Then you can decorate the cans with paper or paint to give them some flare. Finally, stack them vertically or set them up in a traditional bowling triangle and have a blast trying to knock them down.
For this extremely easy DIY project, all you need is a tissue box and some pieces of cardboard you were about to throw in the recycling bin (such as cereal boxes). Cut the cardboard into 16 (or more) identical rectangles and ask your children to draw pictures on half of the rectangles, and then to duplicate those drawings on the other half to create card pairs for your homemade memory game. Next, have them decorate the old tissue box using any materials you have around the house–paper, gift wrap and bows, buttons, stickers, bottle caps, etc. The tissue box will be the perfect storage container for the memory cards made by your children.
Mini Pool Table
My son was so inspired by all of Mark’s ideas that he disappeared into the playroom for hours to work on making a mini pool table out of mostly recycled items. He took a box and then cut six holes around the pool table. Then he cut the tops off aluminum cans and places the bottom halves under the holes to create pool pockets. He found some old drumsticks to use as pool sticks, marbles for the balls, and legos to create a border around the table so that the balls don’t fall off of the table.
It really is amazing what our kids can create with some trash and imagination!
What projects have your children made from recycled materials?