Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

We’ve Only Got This One Earth: Environmental teen programs and 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment

If you read much science fiction, you know that in the future we are forced to colonize another planet because we have destroyed Earth.  We only one life to live, and one Earth to live it on.  But have no fear, there are a lot of things we can do to help save this 3rd rock from the sun that we call Earth, and they are outlined for you in 47 Things You Can Do for the Environment by Lexi Petronis.  This little book is a great addition to your collection and has some little nuggets that you can pull out and do some Earth friendly (Earth Day is April 21) programming. 

Bottle Cap Crafts
One of my favorite teen programs I ever did was called Bottle Cap Crafts where we did nothing but make crafts out of, you guessed it, bottle caps.  You can paint the bottle caps and use them to decorate picture frames.  Put stickers in them and decoupage them to make necklaces, key chains, zipper pulls and more.  You can also fill them with beads and small items and epoxy to create shadow box necklaces.  You see these a lot at craft shows as they are very popular and easy to make.  If you glue a magnet onto the back of the bottle cap and string a washer onto a piece of string for the necklace, you can create easily interchangeable pieces.  Here are 50 bottle cap crafts on Squidoo.

School Supply Swap (Swap, Don’t Shop p. 82)
At the beginning of the school year – or half way through – host a school supply swap to get rid of those unused supplies that teens buy.

Your Library is Totes Cute: Make your own library tote bag (BYOB p. 58)
You can purchase blank tote bags at most craft stores or online and decorate with with fabric markers.  Or purchase colored tote bags and use bleach pens.

Bin Toss (Don’t Toss That p. 38)
Your programming doesn’t have to be all crafts, you can do some education and help teens learn what can and can’t be recycled by doing this simple activity.  You can make it into a game even.

Recycling Discarded Books
Libraries discard a lot of books and although most go into our booksales, some of them should never see the light of day again.  We wouldn’t want our patrons buying them for the same reason we don’t want them in our collections: the information is outdated, dangerous or just too silly to take seriously.  A quick Google search reveals a wide variety of crafts that you can make with books.  In fact, the Teen Programming in Libraries board on Pinterest has a variety crafts you can check out.  You can also use the pages to do quilling or a lot of the activities mentioned below that we do with magazines.

Some book page crafts include:
Book page Kusudam flower
Inspiration: Novel Ideas (a variety of book related crafts)
You can also check out this deconstructed art project currently on display at my library or Google book page art, upcylcing books, deconstructed books, etc.

Recycling Old Magazines
We’re always getting rid of old magazines, but they don’t have to go into the landfill.  Make crafts with them!

Marble Magnets
made with bottle caps, discarded magazines, glass stones, glue and magnets

Paper beads: roll strips of paper to create paper beads and string them to make bracelets and necklaces.

Marble magnets: Using clear acrylic rocks founds at most craft stores, you can create unique, personalized magnets.  Simply cut your word or image to size, use a clear glue to adhere to your rock, put a small backing on the back and then glue on your magnet circle. (marble magnets instructions)

Magnetic Poetry: You can make your own magnetic poetry kits by cutting out words from magazines and gluing them onto pieces of magnetic strips.  This is one of my go-to activities for National Poetry Month, which is also in April.  Pair it with some sidewalk chalk poetry outside and you have a poetry inspired Earth friendly event.

Magnetic Poetry
made with discarded magazines, magnets and glue

Decoupage: With some discarded magazines and a little Mod Podge, you can turn anything into a personalized treasure. Notebooks, picture frames, light switch plates. Good times.

Wrap it up!
If you are making any of these crafts as gifts, you can make your own wrapping paper.  Simply cut up paper bags to size, wrap and paint, stamp, sticker, and stencil. Or use those random bits of off topic paper you have lying around – just turn them print side in and decorate.

Movies suggested:
Gorillas in the Mist
Ferngully: the Last Rainforest
The Day After Tomorrow

Teen Fiction with an Environmental Theme:
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Trickster’s Girl by Hilari Bell
Torched by April Henry
Hoot by Carl Hiassen
Rootless by Chris Howard
The Pearl Wars by Nick James
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Craft books like these are not only great for your collection for your teens (and they will like it because it is very accessible), but they are great for any adults who want to do environmental activities with teens.  If you have it in your collection, you can use it for program inspriation – that’s one of the bonsues to nonfiction.

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