Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1262, (10 - 16 September 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Creative recycling at home

Hold on to unwanted domestic items, says Mai Samih, they can be recycled to make appealing toys for children

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Many people have objects at home they do not know what to do with and end up throwing away, even though they could be useful in creating other things. As much as there are unwanted objects, there are also ideas on how to reuse them.

In August a workshop on recycling was held for children at the Beit Al-Sinary, in the Sayeda Zeinab district of Cairo. Participants learned how to reuse unwanted objects and make them into toys or other useful objects using simple tools.

The workshop was organised by Naglaa Badawi, a pharmacist at Ain Shams Hospital in Cairo. She said she became interested in recycling through workshops advertised on Facebook that she attended.

“Then I started organising my own workshops at a library at Heliopolis last year as a volunteer, mostly teaching children aged from seven to 12 years old,” she says. Badawi explains that some of the classes are too advanced for children, like the one where she uses beads to make flowers, which is more suited for adult learners.

Badawi’s main aim throughout is education. “I don’t make things to sell. I have a passion for teaching people how to do things,” she says. “My aim is to teach children and teenagers so they grow up with the knowledge of how to make such things.”

She plans to organise more workshops for adults in the winter, while the children’s workshops will still be held during the summer.

There are many other things Badawi teaches people to make out of recycled objects, including origami animals and pencil cases.

Such handmade objects can serve as presents for family members and loved ones on different occasions, she adds, showing them how much they are appreciated.

Badawi uses simple materials found at home. “In most cases, we do not buy any raw materials for the workshops. We simply use what there is at home. People should look at objects in a different way than they do now in order to use them to create new objects.”

“Unwanted CDs, old newspapers, broken hair bands, string or pieces of material or clothes: anything a person thinks is useless can be useful here,” she says.

She also re-defines the meaning of recycling: “Recycling means instead of throwing things away, keeping them to use for making something else. For me, it also means using my hands and not using machinery.” Even if someone has no idea what he can do with an unwanted object, he should keep it in case something comes to mind.

Badawi also has new ideas to redesign school activities through her workshops. “We acquire a lot of experience in the workshops, notably in making nontraditional things out of objects found at home. School activities only teach children the traditional skills,” she says. Simple tools and other objects are required for optimal results, including a glue gun, paint in different colours and beads.

“I wish such skills were taught in schools as only by allowing children to be creative, by shaping simple objects, can they feel beauty, extending this to the generations to come,” Badawi comments.

“We should use the right side of our brains more, this being responsible for creativity and imagination. This is what the workshops aim for. It should be developed from childhood onwards,” she says.


A simple lampshade using recycled materials

You will need: 50 gm of knitting wool, a balloon, a packet of corn starch, carpenter’s glue (used for wood), water, a rubber band or piece of string, a pair of scissors and an old lamp.

Instructions: Blow up the balloon, but not fully. Put a tablespoon of starch, two to three tablespoons of glue and two tablespoons of water in a container and mix. Add the wool to the mixture, being careful not to put it in all at once. Then wrap the wool around the balloon horizontally and then vertically until the whole balloon is wrapped in a net of wool. Using a rubber band or a piece of string, hang the balloon to dry for 24 hours. After it dries, cut it open from the top and the bottom to fit the lamp and place it over the old lamp you already have. Alternatively, you could get some of the lights used to decorate a Christmas tree and wrap them around the woollen lampshade to decorate a child’s room.


A decorative paper tissue box in the shape of a house made with recycled materials

You will need: A box of tongue depressors or any old ice cream sticks you have at home, some glue, a pair of scissors, cardboard and coloured felt-tip pens or paint.

Instructions: Take two tongue depressors and put them vertically in front of each other. Then stick on the other depressors horizontally until the vertical ones are covered. Do this for the four sides of the growing box and the top, bearing in mind that the top should be half the length of a wall. To make a chimney for the “house”, cut the middle of the two sides of the last tongue depressors facing each other on the roof in the shape of a square. Then make a chimney shape and add some tissue paper for smoke.
Start drawing on the doors and windows of the house. If you have some extra tongue depressors you could make a fence and a door and windows. You could also make flowers out of cardboard and put them between the house and the fence, adding to the beauty of this unusual paper tissue box.

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