A colorful elephant sculpture with a big smile. It's made out of recyclable laundry detergent bottles.
A colorful elephant sculpture made out of recyclable laundry detergent bottles. Its white smile are bleach bottles. The elephant's trunk is made out of the caps to the bottles. And, it's held together by a wireframe.

An elephant-sized lesson in recycling

Our Backyard Adventures are fun and easy mini-expeditions that you can do — you guessed it! — right in your own backyard. These activities are designed to help students and parents explore the world with eyes of wonder. Along the way, you might discover new areas of interest, new dreams and potential new careers.

Your adventure should you choose to accept it is…

A sculpture of an elephant made from laundry detergent and bleach bottles.
Here is the sculpture halfway finished. You can see the wireframe holding everything together. The families still need to do a lot more loads of laundry to finish this sculpture.

Introduction: Last week I got to visit a school in the Chicago area to discuss recycling. The art teacher Ms. Holly, of Todd Hall Elementary School, thought of making an elephant sculpture out of recyclable laundry detergent bottles. This is a great, life-sized example of just how much stuff we consume. Now multiply this by every school in the country. Wow! That would be about 137,000 plastic elephants. (There are only about 500,000 real elephants left in the world.) By the way, this whole sculpture will go be recycled at the end of the year.

Assignment: Your adventure, should you choose to accept it, is to build a sculpture out of the materials you would normally throw in the recycle bin. For example, if you have cat food cans, you can make a sculpture of a cat.

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