Art Kid vs the Environment: What Do I Do with All This Stuff?


My kid loves art. She draws, she builds costumes out of paper, and she creates entire multimedia neighborhoods for her unicorns (also made by her). I’m proud of her and do my best to encourage her, even though she sure didn’t get it from me.

No one would ever call me “crafty” unless you mean “like a fox.”

But the adventures of my brilliant art kid often collide with my we have to save this planet-side. It’s art vs. the world.

My husband and I have struggled since she could hold a crayon to get her to use both sides of a piece of paper. I bite my tongue when she draws one tiny thing in the middle of the page and calls her art piece finished. 

But bite down, I do. Mostly . . .

In an effort to save this planet, we focus on the reuse part of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” We collect bottles, lids, paper towel rolls, and interestingly-shaped boxes, then store them in the “Making Things Box.”

My prolific daughter and her quickly-following little brother can dig around for raw material any time they get an idea that they must build now. And they get a lot of them.

That’s why I’m standing here, paralyzed.

It’s time to purge some of the old art projects. Some of it is easy and gets saved or hung or stealthily recycled. But what do I do with all the garbage art?

For example. This. 

These are “wind chimes” made from two plastic water bottles, string, tape, and a popsicle stick. Not gonna lie, I think it was a rush job–an idea that was conceived, completed, and handed to me–“for you, Mama!”–within about four minutes.

What do I do with this? 

I’m not stuffing it in her “memory box.”

I’ll pull it out 10 years from now and assume I must have been having a mental breakdown, hoarding every scrap of material I could in case I’d someday NEED a wad of cat-hair-covered tape stuck to a stick–ya know, for the end times. 

I can’t actually hang these wind chimes outdoors, not only because I don’t want to become known as a garbage lady, but because they will blow away and become actual litter within two minutes in this New Mexico spring. 

I’m loath to toss them in the garbage; some of this is recyclable and that stresses out this good little eco-warrior to no end. 

So I take it apart, right? Easy. Recycle the bottles . . . Or wait, I should REUSE the bottles again, shouldn’t I? Put them back in the “Making Things Box”?

But what if I end up with more “wind chimes”?!

I’m standing here near the recycling bin, feeling a slow rising sort of existential panic.

Minutes pass. I’m waffling. I’m suffering.

This is ridiculous. 

I throw the bottles in the recycling and trash the rest. Phew! There. I decided. I have guilt about it, maybe, but it’s done. Hooray!

I turn around and come to face to face with the remaining pile of “to sort” garbage art. 

It is large. It is diverse. And it contains multitudes.


Please send help. 

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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