by Shoshana Chaim
Do you have fond memories of tactile learning in nursery school and art projects in kindergarten as I do?
Oh, the multicolored rice in the sandbox and the feel of it slipping between my fingers, like a real live rainbow I could touch.
And the macaroni picture frame with my school picture I gave my father for Father’s Day. Maybe he still has it on his desk at work…
How many times did you make your mother a colorful cereal necklace, only to eat more than half of it before you could place it ever so gently around her neck?
But today, they make me cry. They make me sad. I love that I made my parents presents and had the experiences I did. I just wish it had not been with food. Good Food. (Well, with the exception of the sugar cereal.) Food that could have been used to feed those in need. Food that would not have been wasted. Food that did not have to be taken for granted. Bummer.
I’m not pointing fingers or laying blame as I’m guilty, too. In my first career as a primary teacher, we glued beans to paper to show groups of 10, used pasta to spell out the kids’ names, and used rice, dyed green, to represent grass in art pictures. But that was then.
Now as a parent and a responsible, professional plant-based/vegan coach, I look at things differently. I teach compassion. I want my children and the families I work with to have more compassion for themselves. I want them to consider how all the choices they make can affect their quality of life and even their health. I want them to have compassion towards animals and compassion towards the planet.
But we must not forget compassion towards other humans. When we take for granted that we can use a few bags of pasta to create a model house in a school pioneer village project, we are being a little selfish. Other children can use that food. Why not consider donating that food and finding recycled goods for all sorts of craft projects?
If your children or their teachers are still using food as art projects, talk to them. Explain that although we live in a world where some of these materials may be easy for us to buy, it may not be as easy for others. Other people are going to bed hungry. When buying food for basic craft projects, we are not being our very best compassionate selves. It’s not very vegan.
Of course, it would be rude of me to end here without offering some recycled craft ideas that are great for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, Mother’s or Father’s Day…or any day really!
- Use an old box to create the frame and backing of a picture frame and decorate with painted flowers made of newspaper. (Does anyone read a newspaper anymore?)
- Use decorative tape to cover pop can tabs to replace the cereal on the necklaces. (No, I am not giving you permission to have a TAB with your salad.)
- Use an empty bean can, plastic or glass container and decorate it as a pen and pencil holder for a desk. (Make sure to carefully cover the top of the can with really thick tape first.)
- Melt old crayons, add a piece of wick from the craft store and pour into muffin tins to create beautiful, ethical candles.
- Use birthday streamers or ribbons and glue them down on paper to make unique patterns.
- Use old buttons and beads to create bracelets, or use them for math projects.
- Use Pinterest! There is a plethora of other ideas out there.
But most of all use caution when purchasing items and think about their impact on the planet and other people. Use compassion and strive to make life a little more ethical each and every day.
About the Author:
Shoshana Chaim is a Family Plant-Based Health and Wellness Coach working to alleviate the stress in life caused by diet, unhealthy lifestyle and chronic illness. As the co-host of The Plant Trainers Podcast, magazine writer, TV guest and an international speaker, Shoshana inspires others with her personal and family health journeys as well as practical ways to improve quality of life through nutrition and fitness. Read more about Shoshana’s story here.