We're happy to present the first issue of The Re-Source, a quarterly newsletter packed with great art ideas for saving money and Mother Earth. As a way of introducing myself, just let me say that I'm an artist, and I have fifteen years experience teaching art at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. Since leaving the public school system in 1988, I've enjoyed teaching hundreds of kids in small groups in my studio.
Oftentimes, we've reused and recycled materials to create art, but I'm not a purist when it comes to saving the environment. In fact, I backed into this whole reuse/recycling thing when I taught elementary art. One morning, my principal stopped by my room to tell me he was going to cut my budget for the upcoming semester. I learned that instead of the usual $1,000 with which I bought art supplies for the entire school, $250 would have to do.
I immediately began planning ways to find grant money and other funding to help make up the difference, but I also turned to collecting and reusing solid waste as art materials. After all, it was free and easy to come by. In 1990, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day was observed. As a result, interest in saving the environment seemed to take on a new life, and it occurred to me that I could encourage reuse by sharing my art activities with others.
Two years later, I received a grant to create and produce a local television series that showed kids how to reuse and recycle materials to create art. In 1996, I launched The Imagination Factory on the Internet. Since then, millions of people have visited the site looking for inexpensive art ideas or ways to teach kids how to reduce, reuse, and recycle, thereby saving energy, natural resources, and landfill space.
In the coming months, we'll give you tips on topics such as how to start a local scrap exchange, along with the names and contact information for organizations that can help as you reuse materials. We'd like to hear from you, so if you have an idea for a particular topic or issue, drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creativity and Conservation
More and more people are
jumping on the recycling bandwagon, but teachers were leading the band long
before recycling became the right thing to do. When money is tight, art is
frequently the first subject that suffers budget cuts in school systems, so
teachers often resort to using trash or solid waste as an inexpensive source of
I know that many others who work with children manage to teach with
very little money, too, but working on a "bare bones budget" and reusing
materials isn't necessarily a bad thing. Besides helping to save the environment
and money, making art from solid waste or trash requires kids to think in new
ways, and making something out of nothing is fun and challenging.
addition to hosting The Imagination Factory, I lead art/reuse workshops for
solid waste management educators and teachers. Participants learn how to
creatively reuse solid waste materials to make quality art and crafts, and they
discover free, community sources of preconsumer waste. I'd like to share some of
those resources with you.