Six simple eco-friendly activities to help kids re-use ‘stuff'

CBeebies presenter Maddie Moate shares six simple eco-friendly activities to help make and do things to re-use household and garden items – and help the environment...

Litter picking can help to protect our natural ecosystems
Lisa Salmon


YOU may already have separate bins for rubbish and recycling, but Maddie Moate stresses that lots of our recycling can be re-used before we get rid of it.

"Why not start a re-use bin?" she suggests. "This can be a place to put clean recycled materials that can be used again for things like arts and crafts."


Moate points out that in some parts of the world, fresh water is considered a luxury and a precious resource. "To help us conserve water, encourage kids to collect rainwater in old containers and use it to water the garden or house plants."


Grab a pair of gloves and a bucket, and go on a rubbish ramble, suggests Moate. "When litter ends up in our natural ecosystems it can be harmful to wildlife and can take hundreds of years to break down," she says.

"We can do our bit by helping clean up our local environment when we're out and about."


Bees will travel up to two miles in search of flowers loaded with nectar and pollen for food, explains Moate. "Over the years, we've destroyed a lot of our native wildflower habitats and this makes searching for food pretty exhausting for our pollinator buddies," she says.

"We can help them out by planting a bee café to help them refuel. A bee cafe is a one-pot stop for our pollinator friends no matter where you live."

Wildflowers bees enjoy include cornflowers, viper's bugloss, poppies and dandelion, and Moate adds: "I really love bees, so planting wildflowers not only encouraged pollinators but also made my garden more exciting."


YOU'LL NEED: old paper, a bowl, water, tea towel and a rolling pin.

HOW TO DO IT: Get some recycled paper and tear it into tiny pieces, and then mix the pieces of paper with some water in a bowl, and squish it all together until it's really mushy. Squeeze the mushy mixture into balls of pulp, and place each pulp ball on a flat surface and put a tea towel over the top, before using a rolling pin to flatten it and squeeze out the excess water. Leave the pulp to dry and you've made your own paper.


"Composting at home is great because it reduces the amount of food waste we send to landfills, which create huge amounts of greenhouse gas," says Moate.

"You don't need to have a garden to start composting either, you can make a mini-compost bin in something as small as a plastic bottle."

YOU'LL NEED: an old plastic bottle, scissors, a pin, tray, brown/green waste, a spray water bottle and kitchen towel.

HOW TO DO IT: Wash an old plastic bottle and peel off any labels, then ask a grown-up to help you cut the top off the bottle and use a pin to poke some holes in the bottom for drainage.

Place the bottle on a plastic tray and add a layer of brown waste – like shredded paper, torn-up egg cartons and crunchy old leaves. Spray the brown layer with water till it's damp, but not too soggy, and then add a layer of green waste – like vegetables, food scraps and grass cuttings.

Place the tray and composter somewhere warm like a sunny windowsill, and give it a stir every day and add a little more water to help micro-organisms break the contents down into compost.

Lay a sheet of kitchen towel over the top to keep it damp, and continue to add layers of brown and green waste, but remember it will take time for everything to decompose. When the layers have transformed into compost, you can add it to the soil around plants to give them a healthy snack packed with nutrients.

:: Stuff: Eco-Stories of Everyday Stuff by Maddie Moate is published Puffin, priced £12.99.

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