Wasteful Wilko Crafting

When you think of kids’ crafts, you might think of houses made from cereal boxes or rockets made from washing up bottles. But this Blue Peter fuelled utopia is no more. Now 99% of children’s craft products seem to be made of foam.

Foam stickers in particular are prolific if every craft set, kids party or playgroup. But what is craft foam actually made of? As always, I had no idea.

Turns out craft foam is a type of plastic. Nope, didn’t see that coming. According to various sources it’s made from ethylene-vinyl¬†acetate (EVA).

Joni loves crafts, and sticking and glueing is one of her favourite things to do. Since Evan was born we’ve not done as much crafting as he likes to eat everything and snacking on tiny pieces of toxic plastic is never a good idea.

A few weeks ago we were in Wilko’s with my mum and after a hectic, stressful day spent either on crammed public transport or outside getting wet, I was feeling pretty frazzled.

I saw this in Wilko’s and bought it for Joni as a rainy day activity. I think I must do more damage to the planet when I’m tired, stressed and flapping than any other time. ‘Mum madness’ has a lot to answer for.

Plastic crafts
Don’t be fooled by their little innocent plastic faces

Today we eventually got round to making the craft kit. I couldn’t actually believe the amount of plastic in it. The contents of this box looked like something straight out of Blue Planet, I’d unknowingly bought enough plastic to create my very own Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Plastic craft waste
To some people this is plastic waste, to Evan it’s a pile of snacks

As we started to make the pull along animal things (which, incidentally, don’t even pull along), the contents of the box seemed to shed more and more plastic with packaging, sticker backing and waste foam creating little piles of debris around the living room.

Plastic craft waste
Industrial size pile of plastic waste number two

Joni was pretty pleased with the results, but this was the waste that resulted from about an hour’s worth of entertainment. Considering she spends just as much time drawing, which is surely one of the most eco-friendly activities a child can do, the entertainment value from this craft kit definitely wasn’t worth the environmental cost.

So, what’s the alternative? No more crafts? Although I would welcome not having to clean up the mess from Joni’s creations (she once painted her entire upper body while my back was turned doing the washing up), I do think there are multiple benefits to encouraging children’s creativity.

The solution is going back to Blue Peter basics I guess. We’ve decided that this weekend we’re going to rummage through the recycling bin and see what we can find to make Halloween decorations. Seeing as 90% of the stock in shops at the moment is plastic Halloween crap, it’s the perfect opportunity to save some cash and do something creative. The best part is that as it’s Halloween, it kind of doesn’t matter how horrific our creations are.

If any of them are a success, I’ll upload them to this blog. You may never hear about our Halloween creations ever again, but at least we will have tried.

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