The Clean Water Blog

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Healthy at Home: Eco-Friendly Activities for Kids & Families

Stay at home days can be a great opportunity to clean and de-clutter different parts of your house and lifestyle. But as we spend more and more time at home, how can we make sure our environment and the products we use are as safe and healthy as possible for our kids and families? We've put together a fun list of eco-friendly activities that will not only help get rid of those quarantine blues, but also help you create a toxic-free, zero waste home! From upcycling plastic bottles to creating hanging flowerpots out of lightbulbs, these projects will surely keep your family busy.
 
Clean Water Action's ReThink Disposable program focuses on helping people make changes in their own habits and in their communities to reduce the use of single-use disposables. The goal is to prevent waste before it starts!  Check out this cute video and take the pledge to reduce single-use products. Then, using the activities below, let's see if we can turn some of our “trash” into treasures or repurpose it! This is called “ upcycling”. Don’t be limited by the ideas listed below. Get creative!
 
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1. Thirty-One Day Zero Waste Challenge for Kids

Your family might use plastic straws, water bottles, and bags for just a few minutes, but those items don’t disappear when they’re thrown out. Single-use items like these account for more than 40 percent of plastic waste, and each year about 8.8 million tons of plastic trash flows into the ocean. This waste endangers wildlife, pollutes the water, and puts human health at risk. The stats are frightening, but you’ve got a secret weapon to curb your family’s plastic use: your kids.

Many children care deeply about wildlife—they certainly don’t want to watch a sea turtle suffocate from a plastic straw—and kids understand they’re inheriting an Earth in crisis. But small changes to your family’s routine can empower your children to make a real difference in the fight against plastic. Check out this 31 Day Zero Waste Challenge for Kids.

 

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2. Repurposed Plastic Bags

We dispose of over 100 billion plastic bags every year in the U.S., and only a fraction are ever recycled. Plastic bags clog storm drains and harm marine life. By 2020, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. While we continue to work with government, businesses and communities to reduce plastic pollution, here are 30 Amazing Upcycling Ideas To Turn Grocery Bags Into Spectacular Creations.

 

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3. Something Old as Something New

Sometimes the old things you have laying around the house you have just need to be tossed or donated, but even your worn-out clothes deserve a chance for revival. Chica Circle gives us a few creative ways to hang on to our favorite clothing items just a bit longer.

 

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4. Upcycling Plastic Bottles at Home

It's time to break the disposable habit. 120 BILLION disposable cups are used in the U.S. each year. Placed end to end, these could circle the equator almost 333 times! If you do have leftover plastic bottles around the house, this article by Lifehack shows 30 ways to creatively reuse plastic bottles. Check out their neat ideas here.
 
 
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5. What to do with stacks of old papers?

Using paper from old mail, newspapers, magazines, and much more are a great way to create colorful origami. We recommend checking out Saving the Planet: Useful Ways to Upcycle Newspapers.

 

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6. CD Mosaic Frames

Make a fun mosaic frame from old CDs! This is a great project to let the teen or tween in your house frame up those Kodak moments. You could also use any frame with a flat front. “Puffy” or dimensional paint fills in the cracks. Check out the full tutorial over at the Make it Easy Crafts blog.

 

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7. Socks with Holes? Not a problem!

Adult socks can find a new use as toddler leggings. Sew 4 Bub provides step-by-step sewing instructions to make these pants for your little one. Don’t let a little sewing scare you. It doesn’t require advanced sewing chops and the process is a lot faster than it looks. Get the instructions for Toddler Leggings.

 

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8. DIY Kids Play Area

This idea is a big undertaking, but the end result is nothing short of extraordinary. Giggleberry Creations transformed a rundown entertainment unit into a play kitchen. A project guaranteed to make some lucky little boy or girl very happy! Get the instructions for a DIY Play Kitchen.

 

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9. Paper Nesting Dolls

These Animal Nesting Dolls are fun to create and to play with later! Handmade blog used four cereal boxes in decreasing sizes to design menagerie. You could make the four animals featured, or craft your own unique zoo. For very young kids, paint the base color on each box, then let them use markers to draw on funny faces.

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10. Love, Life, and Light!

Ready to switch your lightbulbs to more energy efficient ones? Believe it or not, you don’t have to throw away the ones you are replacing or simply stop working. Click Energy gives us 10 DIY ways to reuse light bulbs.

 

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11. Green Cleaning 

While you are indoors you are more likely to be exposed to an increased amount of dust and household chemicals. A fun project with kids, is to find out if your cleaning products are safe at EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning website, and then check out Clean Water Action's Green Cleaning Guide to find out easy ways to switch to effective non-toxic products.   

Safer disinfecting at home in the times of Coronavirus: By far the best way to protect against viruses is frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Please check out this excellent New York Times article on why soap works. Also, if you cannot find hand sanitizer, you can make it yourself - learn more here.

 

Thanks for participating! If you have ideas or activities to share, please email njcwa@cleanwater.org. Clean Water Action is working every day to make sure polluters are held accountable for their wrongdoing while ensuring that our water, air and communities  are protected from harm. We ask that you continue to support us. Together, we can make the changes we seek.