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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to Make Old Things New for Earth Day, April 22

Create a collage: picture of a collaged backsplash on a stove, and a plastic container repurposed to hold utensils. Photo by MB Journe, 03/2024.

Earth Day is on April 22. Usually, it is celebrated weeklong with rallies, walkathons and Earth Day fairs signifying efforts to help the planet.

It was founded in America in 1970 as a day to educate the masses on environmental issues. Today it is estimated that one billion people participate in Earth Day, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  

For instance, the community supported garden, or CSG, at Genesis Farm located at 41B Silver Lake Road in Frelinghuysen will hold their free Earth Day celebration and open Hhuse on Sunday, April 28. There will be farming demonstrations, workshops, hayrides, kids’ activities, a garden lunch and much more. Check them out at or on Facebook.

In the early 1960s, people began realizing the harm caused by our use of pesticides, factory pollutants and transportation emissions. Few practiced recycling, resulting in garbage that was ending up in our rivers, oceans and forests. It was polluting our air and contaminating the soil.  

What started as an organic grassroots event very quickly became a worldwide awakening. Schools encourage pupils to become advocates for the Earth. Most children bring home seedlings to start garden plants. Glass and plastic bottles are painted as vases with colorful flowers made from discarded magazines.

Seize the opportunity to celebrate Earth Day and take the kids out for the day. Go for a bike ride or take a hike. Clean up the road you live on, organize collections of metal and cardboard. Separate plastic, glass, aluminum and paper for recycling or creative reuse projects.   

Before you get rid of unwanted trash, here are a few crafty ways to reuse trash and transform it into treasure:

Create Collages for Memory/Vision Boards

All you need is some patience when cutting out the images from discarded magazines and any glue will do or keep a large bottle of decoupage from the local craft store. With glue, add a little water to make a clear coating on the item. Use a paintbrush to apply glue to the back of the image and brush over with the clearcoat so everything is sealed together.  

Water-based clear coating can be found in the hardware store. To personalize the craft, make color copies of loved ones, pets and special events and use them in your art for decorations, gifts and as ornaments.

Tie-Dye Old Clothes 

This old, faded sweatshirt and work t-shirts are now renewed with bleach and tie-dye colors. Photo by MB Journe, 03/2024.

Fill a spray bottle with one part bleach to three parts water. Protect your hands with rubber gloves. Use rubber bands or string to tie up your project and create designs. Apply bleach and water to the fabric. Watch the fabric change before your eyes. Next, wash with soap and water until the desired color change is achieved. 

Helpful hint: do not leave the bleach water on your project or it will burn holes in the fabric. The trick is to use 100% cotton fabric. 

Jeans bleach out nicely from shades of blue to white. Black and brown fabric usually turns a lovely burnt orange color. Midnight blue and purple can change into a very surprising mauve color. Green and red clothing usually becomes a lighter shade of the original hue. Some fabric will not bleach out so before committing to the job, apply the bleach and water to a small area first.

Recycle Old Canvases

Canvas can be reused by priming with water-based primer to create a new surface. Photo by MB Journe, 03/2024.

Any canvas can be made new with a little paint. The first step is to clean and paint the surface with a water-based interior or exterior house paint with primer. Canvas can be purchased cheaply at the local thrift shops or garage sales. 

Any item reused is one less item in the landfill. It doesn’t have to be brand new to be new to you. 

We are all connected to this planet, let’s make Earth Day every day!

Yelens Choban
MB Journe, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

MB has been a resident of Frelinghuysen for the past 22 years. She lives in an old farmhouse on the side of the road. She enjoys the simple life, puttering in her flower garden, practicing Qi Gong under her redbud tree, or creating art on the deck.
MB's experience as a journalist began when her son was quite young, she began writing for The Paulinskill Valley Chronicle, often bringing him to work with her. Her responsibilities were writing articles with photos, selling ads, and billing. This suited her, as a single mother not wanting to be separated from her small child.

She considers herself a lover of nature, often seen photographing its beauty. She has worked as a seasonal employee of YMCA Camp Mason for the past 17 years. She is a teacher and mentor of children, always emphasizing the YMCA’s core values - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. She tries to listen carefully to each individual she interviews, getting their viewpoint. That is why she likes to write about the interesting people and places that make Warren County such a nice place to live.