Did you know that April 22 is Earth Day? This year’s theme is Plastic Pollution, so we’ve created an activity that can upcycle a plastic bottle you already have at home. Before we get started, here are some important facts on plastic pollution.
Plastic is a material that was invented by people, only about a hundred years ago. It’s useful for many things. But a lot of plastic items are designed to be used only once, and then thrown away. Think of plastic bags, straws or takeout cups from coffee shops. That’s a lot of plastic garbage.
And a lot of it ends up in the ocean. Even plastic that has been properly thrown in the trash and taken to the landfill can be carried by wind and rain into the water, and eventually into the ocean.
This causes big problems. If a sea turtle sees a plastic bag, it might mistake it for a jellyfish, its favourite food. When it tries to eat the bag, it will choke. And sea turtles are just one of the many sea creatures that end up eating plastic: birds, fish, sea lions and whales do it too. (See our Food Chain Nesting Dolls for more information on what sea creatures should be eating).
Unlike organic waste, plastic takes years and years to break down. Even when it does break down, you end up with an ocean full of teeny tiny bits of plastic, like a huge cloudy plastic soup. These microscopic pieces of plastic are eaten by plankton, which are then eaten by fish, and so on up the food chain.
How can you help reduce plastic pollution?
Check out our collaborative playlist for tips.
- Use a reusable water bottle instead of buying water in plastic bottles.
- Use a reusable metal straw (or no straw at all) instead of a disposable plastic one.
- Use reusable grocery bags instead of plastic bags.
- Put your lunch in a reusable container instead of using plastic wrap.
Plastic in the ocean is a terrible problem. But there are things we can do to help. If we all make changes, we can help fix this problem. Make every day Earth Day!
Here is a fun and easy way to reuse a plastic bottle!
- Empty plastic bottle (any size)
- Masking tape
- Googly eyes
- Fine sandpaper (300+ Grit)
- Recycled buttons or other decorations
- Glue stick or hot glue (low setting)
- Plant and soil
- Aquarium gravel to assist with drainage (optional)
- Acrylic paint and/or spray paint for plastic
- In green, blue or white (depending on craft)
- Paint brush
- Chalk marker or permanent marker in black (and pink for Peekaboo Cat)
- Utility knife and scissors
Note: Have an adult use the utility knife, spray paint, scissors and hot glue. Leave the decorating to the kids!
Map out the Shape
- Use the masking tape to tape a line around the bottle. This will give you a straight line to cut.
- Dinosaur: Use the chalk marker to draw out the neck of the dinosaur above the masking tape line. Tip: Chalk marker can wipe off easily later.
- Peekaboo Cat: Use the chalk marker to draw the ears above the masking tape line.
- Pierce a hole in the bottle with a utility knife. Tip: keep the blade retracted, only exposing the tip for more control.
- With scissors roughly cut out your shapes.
- After the top of the bottle is removed go back around and clean up the edges.
Sanding and Painting
- Lightly sand the outside of the bottle to roughen the surface. This will help the paint to stick. Wipe clean (make sure bottle is clean and dry).
- Paint the bottle with chosen shade of acrylic paint, this will take several coats. Tip: use a hair dryer to speed drying between coats. Spray paint made for plastic can be used if you already have a can at home.
- Dinosaur: Use glue to attach googly eyes and button decorations.
- Peekaboo Cat’s eyes are made of two different sized buttons attached together (the bottom painted bright green, the top black).
- Draw in mouths (use pink marker for Peekaboo Cat and black for the dinosaur), noses and toes.
- Add aquarium rocks to the bottom of the planter if desired. Then fill with soil and plant.