We live in a country of tremendous abundance. Most of us have the ability not only to meet our daily needs, but to fulfill many of our wants and desires. As a result, we may sometimes overlook the value of an object that no longer suits us and discard it rather than finding an alternative use for it.
We’ve become a throw-away society with a multitude of single-use products that make our lives simpler, but draw unwisely on our natural resources and burden our landfills. The City of Oklahoma City reports that we send about 19,400 tons of trash to the landfill each month. We recycle about 713 tons monthly. Resourcefulness means making wise use of what others might overlook or discard. We can be resourceful in a number of areas, from using our time wisely to managing money well or making good use of the gifts we have been given.
The muskie is often called the “fish of ten thousand casts” because it is so difficult to land this elusive creature. Fishermen must make use of every resource available to them to catch a muskie. While the fish spend much of their time in deep water, muskies swim into shallow water to eat, offering a brief window of opportunity for fishermen. Once the muskie is hooked, the battle has just begun. Muskies can weigh 50 pounds or more and are not eager to leave the water. Fishermen have been known to fight the fish for hours, struggling over each inch of line reeled in. Even when the muskie is on board and one might assume that fish will be served for dinner, muskie have been known to save their last ounce of strength for flopping out of the boat just as the hook is removed.
I Will Statements
- I will see value in objects, ideas and people.
- I will repair, reuse, and recycle.
- I will make wise use of my time, talents, energy, and mind.
- I will give away or sell the things I do not use.
- I will not litter.
In this month of focusing on resourcefulness, be creative in making projects to use the “I Will” statements above. Make bookmarks by using thin cardboard (like cereal boxes) glued together and write the statements on them. Paper grocery bags can be used to make placemats large enough for all five of the “I Wills.”
Praise your child whenever he or she makes wise use of resources—whether it is using the back of a piece of paper or making good choices about how she or he spends his or her time. Don’t wait to praise a child until he or she achieves greatness—demonstrating character is greatness. Children will become what you tell them they are.
It is estimated that each year Americans throw away 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags. This rug will divert some of those bags from the landfill and also give you a good place to wipe your feet.
- Use a 24”x 30” piece of cardboard as your loom and cut 12 one-inch by one-inch notches on both ends of the narrow side to hold the plastic bags in place.
- With scissors, cut the sides of each bag down to the bottom seam to open the bag up so it will lie flat. (If the bag has handles, they may need to be snipped to make the bag lie flat.) Scrunch the bag along its length to make a rope. Tie the scrunched bags together, end to end. Start with about 10 bags; you can always tie more on later if you need them.
- Wrap the bag rope around the loom, starting with the notched side. Leave a length of about eight inches at the beginning—you’ll tie that part off later. Wrap the bag rope up and down the length of the loom using the notches as a guide. When all of the notches are filled, on the back, tie the end to the length you left at the beginning. This piece will lie diagonally across the loom.
- Now you are ready to begin weaving. Tie a bag rope to an already wrapped rope at a corner of the loom, then begin weaving the bag over and under the wrapped rope on the front of the loom. It is easiest to work with just one bag and tie on another as you go. Scrunch the bags together each time you complete a row so there will be no gaps in the rug.
- When you’ve woven all the way around the cardboard, tie the end of the bag rope to one of the lengthwise wraps and then cut the bag rope at each notch of the cardboard. Slide the cardboard out of the center of the rug. Tie each of the cut ends to the cut end across from it to finish off the rug.
- This project was inspired by the “plastic bag mat” featured in Earth-Friendly Crafts for Kids: 50 Awesome Things to Make With Recycled Stuff by Heather Smith with Joe Rhatigan. The book also has 49 other ideas you can try with things you’d normally throw away.
Another strategy for cutting down on the number of plastic bags used is to take your own canvas bags whenever you go shopping. Depending on the age of your children, this can become a group project. Sew the bags yourself or decorate pre-made bags with fabric paint or permanent marker—they might just give store clerks a reason to smile.
Recycling is more fun when it is a family project. For more information on curbside recycling, check with your local government to see what is available in your neighborhood. Many areas of the Metro offer free recycling bins and encourage their residents to recycle to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.
- My favorite story about resourcefulness is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Truffula trees and thneeds may sound like fantasy things, but this ecologically-minded tale’s lesson is still as needed today as it was when the book was originally published in 1971.
- Painted Dreams by Karen Williams tells the story of a resourceful and creative Haitian girl who uses whatever she can find to paint vivid pictures and help her family.
- For adults who would like to explore more ways to be resourceful, check out Good News for a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel.