Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ken Burns In the Classroom


Ken Burns has become synonymous with historical documentaries. No wonder, given he's been writing, directing, producing, and filming them for over 40 years. During his tenure and along with his collaborators, he has produced 36 films, most of which have aired on PBS, where you can also access them to stream online.

For teachers, this is a goldmine given he is the master of weaving together primary sources and archival footage.

PBS has set up a whole website dedicated to Ken Burns in the Classroom. There, you can search by film, era, topic, grade level, subject, and keyword to build your lesson plans.  Filtered searches can then lead you to videos, interactive, interactive lessons, lesson plans, audio, images, documents, webpages, and resource galleries that integrate with all of PBS's resources. 

The Ken Burns in the Classroom website also links you to the Ken Burns UNUM website, an extension digital world curated by Ken Burns in 2018 to build further connections. "Unum" comes from the United States motto: "E Pluribus Unum" which means "out of many One." His reasoning for both the name and the website--to create a visual history of a united shared history, even in divisive times. 
The goal is to remain impartial while layering together clips from past histories with the present day conceptual stories to see the greater meaning. Likewise, the intent is to help us return to civics education and civility.

UNUM is arranged by Featured content*, UNUM Shorts, Themes, Events, UNUM Voices, People, AP US History Themes, War, Places, Times, Conversations, and Opportunities from their Partners. Likewise there is a section for educators.

If ever you are looking for historical online resources, you may want to tuck this bookmarked page where you can find it!

*At time of writing, the Featured content includes his Facebook Live conversations in December 2021 with political historian, author, and professor Heather Cox Richardson.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Ryan Reynolds: The Environmentalist

My mom loves Ryan Reynolds. Not in a weird way, but in a cute, her-grandkids-like-to-tease-her way, where she could possibly watch "The Proposal" every day. Especially with Betty White, it's a complete classic. Not to mention, he IS pretty darn cute.

More importantly, he was green long before 2011 when he appeared in Green Lantern (long before his Deadpool & Red Notice days). Being an environmental lover and activist has been part of his core for well over half of his lifetime.


He also is the voice of Canadian's January 2022 The Nature of Things "Curb Your Carbon" series (where curses! as an American, I can not view this! Argh!). [You can learn more about that series here.] Here's a trailer (and you'll get why I'm upset to miss it, as it brings that iconic, engaging Ryan Reynolds humor to the screen):


It sort of makes sense why Canada (and fellow Canadian Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies) wrote a love song to him, especially after he won the Governor General's Art Award for his work, entrepreneurship, and activism. May we all follow in his environmental endeavors and carbon footprints!




Infographic created at Canva.com--image credits on infographic, video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8q4ph2XVelA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXulsCU1geg

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

TED's Think Like A Coder Series

I've been working on some coding activities with my younger elementary students at school. For my very youngest students, we use Bee-bots as a way to introduce the concept of programming. Then Code.org and their CS Fundamentals courses are the perfect introduction to block coding for young students. From there I always like to bounce into Scratch Jr on the iPad.

The students love it and always beg for more.

Coding and computational thinking are definitely key literacy skills for today's students.

That's why, TED-Ed's "Think Like a Coder" Series is brilliant! Partnering with YouTube Learning Playlist, TED-Ed has created these ten short animated adventures teach the principles of coding through videos challenging you to think them through. To learn more about the series, go here. With names like Prison Break, The Resistance, and more, they will capture the interest of students of all ages!

Here's the trailer:

Episode 1: Prison Break

Episode 2: The Resistance

Episode 3: The Furnace Bots

Episode 4: The Train Heist

Episode 5: The Artists

Episode 6: The Chasm

Episode 7: The Tower of Epiphany

Episode 8: The Gauntlet

Episode 9: The Factory

Episode 10: The Finale: The World Machine

Video from :https://youtu.be/qhAAmyGnA-M, Image from https://blog.endlessnetwork.com/blog-1/how-one-ted-ed-producer-thinks-like-an-artist-to-inspire-others-to-think-like-a-coder


Saturday, January 15, 2022

If Trash Could Talk

We all want a voice, because in having one, then we can be heard.

Archaeologists have long since been the historical voice through their archaeologist digs. You can learn a lot through the remains, and that remains true for both ancient and modern day trash. In that way, archaeologists are trashologists or garbologists!

Just like the Lorax spoke for the trees, these resources below speak for the trash. The video (๐ŸŽฅ) may bring a smile, the book (๐Ÿ“™) of poems might bring some enjoyment, and the experiments (๐Ÿงช) might bring some hands on science... but more than that, hopefully they cause you to pause and rethink what you are using in order to go forward making different choices.

๐Ÿ“™ If Trash Could Talk: Poems, Stories, and Musings (2018) by Jacquelyn A. Ottman

๐Ÿงช If Trash Could Talk experiment from the American Museum of Natural History 

๐Ÿงช Trash Talks from AIA Education Department

๐Ÿงช Trash Experiments from KonnectHQ

๐ŸŽฅ  If Trash Could Talk from Buzzfeed Videos:  


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Phenology & The 4 Seasons

As we are hitting the "wintery mix" days of weather here in early January where I live, I'm looking outside at "the muck and stuff" that's coming down on the snow that gave us a beloved snow day last week. Not being a winter girl, it has me longing for the signs of spring.

When we pay attention to those seasonal signs, we are following phenology.


To learn a little bit more about phenology and how it is tied to what is happening with climate change, check out this TED-Ed video:


If you can't get enough about Phenology, check out The Roving Naturalist's video on it!

It all reminded me of this video by Charles Germaine. I had the honor of sitting on a maritime foundation board with Charles over the past few years prior to the dissolving of the organization. Even prior to that, I'd been a fan of his videos and YouTube Channel. The video below is a phenology video of the "4 Seasons of Magothy River." The Magothy used to be the view outside my window at a school I taught at for 7 years (years ago). 

Here as we are making our way into January, if you are needing a little visual meditation to carry you through your current weather through the other seasons, take a phenology trip to visit them through Charles Germaine's 3:41 minute movie.



Saturday, January 8, 2022

Cheering on the Changemakers

As I was catching up on TED Countdown and the many environmental talks from the end of October 2021, I ran across this talk from Melati Wijsen. That name sounded familiar. Of course it did! I'd written about her and her sister Isabel in 2018 and their TED talk about their push to make Bali plastic free. They were changemakers then, and as Melati describes in this TED Talk, making change doesn't happen over night, but it does happen!

Looking for a little inspiration here at the beginning of 2022? 

Start here: 10 years after Melati and Isabel Wijsen have been working hard to make a difference in their community. Then see where it is you can begin to make a difference as a changemaker in your own ways.

Looking for more about Changemakers? Check out the Changemaker podcast by Jackie Biederman.

A Treasure Trove of Wisdom & Wonderment with SciShow & More

I've talked before of my love of Crash Course videos. Brothers Hank and John Green (yes, "Fault in Our Stars" and other young adult books, author John Green) do a sharp-witted, quick pace deep dive into all sorts of topics of such as history, science, technology, engineering, psychology, business, sociology, film study, ecology, and more. They've revamped their website and have 32 themed courses and the knowledge base in there is exponential.

Hank Green is at it again--and has been since 2212. Hank, along with the help of a team of others including Michael Aranda, Olivia Gordon, Stefan Chin, Caitlin Hofmeister, Reid Reimers, Brit Garner, and Anthony Brown have created SciShow, which has now branched into the following 4 YouTube channels of wonderment and answers: 

  • SciShow -- tackling science discoveries and more to tweak your curiosities.
    • Spinoff: SciShow Tangents, which began in 2018, and gives you loads of random tangents and tidbits.
  • SciShow Psych -- sharing brain-based research and diving into what makes you "you!"
  • SciShow Kids -- bringing it down a notch to be right and ready to share information with the elementary set.
This post from edtech guru Richard Byrne on his Free Technology For Teachers details 3 elementary aged SciShow Kids' engineering--great if you are doing a digging into the design process. At 4-6 minutes long, these animated shorts are the perfect bite sized bits to energize your students.
You'll find other great engineering topics at a slightly higher level for students on the SciShow channel too. And the environment.... And math... And music..... the list goes on!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

52 Weeks Ahead

Last year, in February, I wrote about "52 Weeks Challenges." In it, I described my own personal pursuit to reading 52 books to correlate with the 52 weeks of the year. I kept a running list in my Artful Agenda digital calendar, and I did indeed hit 52 books... by August 11th. I also hit my stretch goal of 75 books, hitting 76 by the year's end. With a mix of fiction and non-fiction, sometimes it was a campy light read, and sometimes it was a book with deeper meaning. But it definitely was a year of a lot of reading... and escape... and new ideas.  

My book list for 2021 is below. Stars indicate my favorites. I'm going to go for another 52 books for 2022.

My hiking friend also met her goal on her #52HikeChallenge, hitting a grand total of 58 hikes during the year. Impressive!

What's your plan for the next 52 weeks? Where will you be a year from now? What changes do you hope to conquer, and what will it take to get you there. Whatever your plan is, take note of it, keep track and go for it!

*  *  *  *

MY GOAL: Read 52 books this year!

Achieved August 11th, 2021

Stretch Goal 75--Super Stretch goal 80


Stretch goal met December 26th, 2021

Total: 76 books 47 Fiction titles 29 Non-fiction titles


January = 5

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

**Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

Sam & Isla's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn & David Leviathan

Dawn's Early Light by Elswyth Thane

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness & Live an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero


February = 4

Eat Smarter by Shawn Stevenson

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

**Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas


March = 10

Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

**Bright Side of Going Dark by Kelly Harms

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

Woman Last Seen in Her 30s by Camile Pagan

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women's Anger by Sonoya Chemaly

**The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

The Home Place: Memories of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Latham

The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries by Zoe Weil

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky


April = 6

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

There's No Planet B: Teen Vogue's Book on Climate Crisis Edited by Lucy Diavalo

**Immigrant Innovators: 30 Entrepreneurs who Made A Difference by Samantha Chagolian

Promise Cove by Vicki McKeehan

Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change by Robin Stevenson

Kid Innovators: True Tales of Chuldhood from Inventors and Trailblazers by Robin Stevenson


May = 8

**The 3 Mrs. Wrights by Linda Keir

My First Little Book of Intersectional Activism by Titania McGrath

Woke: A Guide to Social Justice by Titania McGrath

Wildernes: Gateway to the Soul by Scott Stillman

**Teaching When the World is On Fire edited by Lisa Delpit

The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury by Marc Levy

The Cafe on the Edge of the World: A Story About the Meaning of Life by John Strelecky

Your Turn: How to Be an Adult by Julie Lythcott Haims


June = 5

The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human Centered Planet by John Green

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universes by Benjamin Saenz

The President Is Missing by James Patterson & Bill Clinton

**Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols

Stealing Home (The Sweet Magnolias Book 1) by Sherryl Woods


July = 11

A Slice of Heaven (The Sweet Magnolias Book 2) by Sherryl Woods

Duck: An Outer Banks Village by Judith D. Mercier

Coastal Wild: Among the Untamed Outer Banks Photography by Steve Altman and Mark Buckler

Feels Like Family (The Sweet Magnolias Book 3) by Sherryl Woods

Booked For Trouble: A Lighthouse Library Mystery by Eva Gates

Culturally Responsive Teaching and The Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students by Zaretta Hammond

**Park & Eleanor by Rainbow Rowell

The Culture Code : The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

Beach Read--Emily Henry

**Squeeze Me—Carl Hiasson

Songs of a Confederate Raven--Kathleen Thomas -- Robyn Hill (Illustrator)


August = 7

Sorry I Missed You—Suzy Lrause

The Proposal—Jasmine Guilleroy

The Truth and Other Hidden Things: A Novel—Lea Geller

The Restarting Point—Marci Bolden

**Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good—Jennifer Williams

**How the Word Is Passed: A Recogning With the History of Slavery Across America—Clint Smith

The Inn At Eagle Point (Chesapeake Shores Book 1)—Sherryl Woods


September = 4

Trophy Life—Lea Geller

For Once in My Life—Colleen Coleman

Most Good, Least Harm: A Simple Principle For a Better World and a Meaningful Life—Zoe Weil

Party of Two—Jasmine Guillory


October = 4

Life Unscheduled—Kristen Rockaway

**Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World—Katharine Hayhoe

The Meetinng Point — Olivia Lara

Less—Andrew Sean Greer


November = 5

**Seven Perfect Things—Catherine Ryan Hyde

One Hit Wonder: A Samantha True Novel — Kristi Rose

When Life Gives You Lemons — Fiona Gibson

The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth — Jo Langford

The Comfort Book-Matt Haig


December =7

If the Fates Allow-Rainbow Rowell

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily—David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

**Twelve Days of Christmas—Debbie Macomber

The Christmas Blanket--Kandi Steiner

A Christmas Message—Debbie Macomber

**Hope Is a Verb: Six Steps to Radical Optimism When the World Seems Broken—Emily Ehlers

The Bette Davis Club—Jane Lotter


TOTAL = 76 books


Quote from https://philocalylifestyle.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/a-year-from-now.jpg; 



Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Years 2022

When the clock strikes midnight, separating December 31 to January 1, it traditionally has brought on great times of reflection for me. I have a history of long mysteries as my parents often stayed at a wonderful old world German flair hotel with friends of the family over New Years. It was not only beautiful in its regular decor, but down right magical at Christmastime. My brother and I and our friends' children who were there with us had run of the hotel as our playground. We were safe and secure and it was a trusted spot where you couldn't get lost--yet it was ripe with its many hidden corners that were perfect for cozying in and finding time to reflect in these wonderful nooks and crannies. My journal and I would curl up together and I'd often think back on the year that had passed and the year that was ahead.

Thinking back to the past of not just this year, but the last couple, the past few years have been full with so many things we never thought would or could ever happen. In my modern time lifetime of technology and advanced medicine, a global pandemic was not on my radar of things I thought I'd ever experience. Nor did I think they'd be a two-year experience. 2020 was radically altered from the arrival of Covid-19. I remember being flabbergasted at one point when I heard Dr. Fauci or an epidemiologist on the news state mid-2020 that this could go to 2021. And now we enter 2022. 

I will admit, given the last few, I feel tentative as I toe dip into this new year. Who knows what's ahead given the craziness of all that we've endured. I feel the heavy weight of trepidation!

However, the more times you go around the sun, the more wisdom you gain with that experience. I'm certainly old enough to know that you never know what the future holds, but you also can't sit and stew about it. Here on the cusp of 2022, we haven't a clue what's ahead. Insert global issues, politics, innovation, economics, society, and more--there most certainly is no certainty! 

But, we are at the cusp of the year, what we can control is in our hands. What's in store for you, and what are you willing to do to get yourself where you want to be?

Every year, I do an exercise of determining one word for the year. We had to do this at the start of the school year this year as well. Given that, I'm going to stick with that one. My word: Buoyancy. Keeping myself up, keeping others up and supporting them. Gaining my strength in the peace, serenity, and calm in the same way I feel when buoyant on the water. 

May you land on your word this year as you reflect over where you have been and where you are going... and may your 2022 be rewarding in so many ways. Cheers to the new year!

Images from Canva.com.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 A Year In Review, Environmentally Speaking

'Tis the season, this week between December 25th and January 1st, where all sorts of lists start coming out. The bests and the worsts. The top movies-books-music of the year. The most memorable events of the year to make history. I'm sure there's more.

Along those lines, and knowing that the last couple have been some hard ones, I thought it might be interesting to compile some of those lists here that look at the year from an environmental perspective.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

May your Holidays be Full of Warmth and Cheer

 Using this space and place today to wish you warmth, cheer, joy, love, and laughter. 

Thank you for the gift of traveling alongside GTG all these years.

Image created at Canva.com

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

#Twelvetide & Purposeful Kindness

12 is is one of those recurring, symbolic number--especially during the holidays.
  • There's the carol: "12 Days of Christmas"
  • The actual "12 Days of Christmas" fall on the dates of Christmas through January 5th, leading up to January 6th's Epiphany.
  • There's the cyclical nature of 12 months in a year, which is the cycle from one Christmas to another
  • And we have 12 hours doubled to make the 24 hour cycle that makes one day.
Those 12 actual Days of Christmas can also be called "Twelvetide."

I ran across a post about Twelvetide on Dr. Wallace J. Nichol's Facebook Page. [Dr. Nichol is the author of Blue Mind, one of my favorite environmental books.] The post was about both the 12 days between Christmas and New Year as well as their family traditions of random acts of gratitude, kindness, and community service. Their post was about their family list from 2016-2017. Some of the activities they did as a family that year included a beach cleanup, Starbucks gift card deliveries to those who were in need, letters to children in an orphanage, cookie deliveries to the forestation, a care package for an ill friend, thank you notes to mentors in their lives, sock donations to a homeless person, and more.

Ironically, parallels were instantaneous as I was also currently reading the book Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber. Essentially a lighthearted, holiday Hallmark movie in a book, this story was about a woman writing a blog about her crotchety neighbor (deemed "Ebeneezer"), and what the effects would be if she "killed him with kindness" for 12 days straight. [Spoiler alert--it worked.]

Podcaster Charlene Johnson has a similar tradition to the Nichols' #Twelvetide above called "10 Envelopes." This link takes you to this year's story of their family's annual tradition.

All three are variations on the concept of random acts of kindness. [This link, by the way, has a slew of ideas if you need some.] Purposeful kindness falls in line with the idea of giving--not just gifts but of your self. Giving is also a strong seasonal theme with Hanukkah, Christmas, and the African American holiday Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa falls December 26-January 1, and  has similar themes of community, unity, working together for the common good, and giving of themselves in the 7 principles. 

The beauty of purposeful kindness is that it does not have to be tied to any one holiday, any particular time of year, or any set religion.

As the year is winding to a close with Christmas and the pocket of Twelvetide ahead, and the start of the new year, maybe now is the season for you to practice some purposeful kindness. What big or little things can you do to go outside yourself to help others? With the stressors we've seen from everything between the pandemic to politics to other global concerns, now more than ever before, it might be the time to reach out and make the world better for each other. 

Whether it's one thing or a total of twelve, use this time of the year to pay forward some seasonal joy.

Art from https://mom2.com/wp-content/uploads/TWELVETIDINGS-1.jpg


Saturday, December 18, 2021

A Wrapping We Will Go

If you celebrate Christmas, you are in that final stretch. With any luck, you have found every perfect gift item for everyone on your list. Some may be gifts that give back in one way or another, some may be from shopping local (always great for the community merchants), and some may be gifts that aren't "stuff." Hopefully any orders have traveled as they were supposed to and have landed on your front porch with care--and without delays.

Now, let the wrapping begin!

Wrapping gifts is another one of those environmental conundrums. There's a lot of waste involved in wrapping (and the packaging of those gifts if they all come on your doorstep).

We have our bow box (a long time tradition), our container of gift bags, and try to buy paper made out of recycled materials when we can. But here are some other ideas if you need them from Eco With Em. 


For more ideas on reducing your wrapper waste check out these links:

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Gifts That Are Light On Your Wallet AND The Planet

As we all know, 'tis the season for gift giving and shopping. If you are still doing both, this may be just what you need. I ran across this graphic on Eco With Em's Facebook page. (I love her illustrations and approach to environmentalism.) It serves as an excellent reminder that gifts can have great meaning and not come with a pricy gift tag, being both good for your wallet and our planet! 

May you both give and receive some of these gifts this holiday season!


Saturday, December 11, 2021

Decisions, Decisions: Christmas Tree Edition

Choice. The world is full of it, and we are always making them. Sometimes they’re simple and merely a matter of taste: vanilla -vs- chocolate, Pepsi -vs- Coke. Star Wars -vs- Star Trek. Regular -vs- decaf.

Sometime they go deeper into moral, economic, political and they are much harder. This is often true with environmental dichotomies: Wind -vs- Solar Power. Reuse -vs- recycle. Paper -vs- plastic. 

The same holds true with one of the most classic Christmas symbols—the tree. The dilemma? Real -vs- artificial.

The answer? Not always simple!

As Matt Hickman's November 2021 Treehugger article "What's the Environmentally Preferable Choice: A Real Christmas Tree or a Faux One?" points out, a big determining factor is what are your post-Christmas plans for that tree of yours. Some quick points: Tossing a real tree in a landfill is never a good idea. Make sure it gets outside in time for your local municipality to compost it or turn it into mulch. Additionally it could become a home in the woods for wildlife if you take it there. If you are going artificial, make a plan to keep it a long time so that you are reusing it, not buying new every year and/or adding to the landfill.

Here are some other takes on the same concept:
Moral of the story…you need to do what works best for you. I love the smell and act of cutting down a real tree, but it’s not practical if you travel, and it is not safe have it up for a really long season.

The neat thing though, is it is not necessarily an "either/or" situation. There are other options too. Check out Treehugger's Katherine Martinko's 2021 article "How to Have the Greenest Christmas Tree Ever" on how to help your tree (whichever type you choose) have a lower environmental footprint. There's a great link in that article taking you to Green Moxie's 2020 article "35 DIY Christmas Trees made from Recycled Materials" with some fabulous and inventive ideas and photos that get you to Plan C for your Tree: Not Real, Not Fake, But Something Else! That's all the magic of this season--your imagination and some lights can carry you far. Might be worth consideration if you've yet to make your tree decision this year... or may have you planning ahead for your 2022 Holiday Season!


Photos from

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Seasonal Shopping: Gifts That Give Back

Finding that “just right” gift can be tough. 

Now, during this early- moving to mid-December time, the pressure is on. Email inboxes are filled up with marketing and sales galore... all while threats of global logistical issues are looming that package delivery might be slowed down. Time is ticking, you want to get gifts here if you're shopping by mail. You're wrestling the stores and the questions of  "should I mask or not" as talk of more Covid variants loom. Financially, you are working inside your gift-giving budget, trying to not break the bank, but meanwhile also trying to give a gift that sends the right message and speaks from the heart. 

None of this is an easy task! Holiday shopping is not for the faint of heart!

Additionally, you might also be wrestling slightly with the materialism side of life, wondering if the true meaning of Christmas is getting lost in the shuffle—especially if you are trying to spread that message to the little ones in your life too. Insert visions of the A Charlie Brown Christmas here!

But there are gifts out there that can possibly fit all the bills mentioned above. Gifts you'll enjoy, but they are also gifts that give back. Companies have made it part of their business model to include paying it forward where your purchase brings gifts not only to yourself but others. Some companies that fall in that category include: 
At least four of these companies were on my shopping list this holiday season.

In thinking about these companies, I knew there had to be more. And there are. Here are some links to lists of many more amazing companies that give back. If you are still shopping for that perfect gift, check these out! I'm sure there are tons more and I'd love to hear about them. 
For more thoughts on gift-giving visit...


Saturday, December 4, 2021

A Clean Garage...and a Box of Legos!

Every season or two, it seems that garage of ours gets out of control and needs some major taming. Two weekends ago was our magical moment for that. Our weekends had kept us on the move most of the fall, so when our first one opened up right before Thanksgiving, and it was a nice one (weather-wise), it seemed like the time to jump. Additionally, my motivation in part was that if I wanted to get to our Christmas boxes for the holiday decorating, I needed to at least carve that path!

About 6 hours later....once most everything had come out to the yard and gotten put back in again, I finally wrapped it up. Always a daunting job (where I always feel a little bit like Indiana Jones facing the unknown), it always comes with major sense of triumph when accomplished.... not to mention a sore muscle or two!

A clean garage also always leaves me with a trunk-load of items to take to the Good Will and coats for the annual coat drive at school. This year did not disappoint. Additionally, it left me with a box of Legos.

Last year, we were able to gift our niece a giant box of our old Legos for Christmas. (My kids were major Lego kids). The perfect way to repurpose a great toy. But, even with that tub, there were still so many. We had sorted out the odd pieces, but given being both a Lego enthusiast and an environmentalist, I knew there had to be something else we could do with them. The major plan involved them sitting in my garage for a year. But the time had come for them to move beyond my garage.

Luckily, in addition to "reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle," I now can add "RePlay."

RePlay is one of the many sustainable elements of The Lego Company--namely, their brick recycling program.  I grabbed a mailing box that would accommodate my bricks, went to their website, and printed off a free mailing label (where they will cover the postage). After my Legos were all bundled up and postage affixed, I dropped it off at a FedEx store. Once the box o'bricks gets back to them, they are cleaned, then donated to classrooms and Boys & Girls Clubs. If the Legos don't satisfy their needs, they then are ground down to be made into new Legos. If that don't work (for whatever reason), they are can be reused as material for other things. This level of circular economy and returning items back to their creator company is the ultimate gift that keeps giving!

Standing in my doorway, looking into my clean garage is definitely a "feel good" experience. But equally warm and rewarding is knowing that my time was well spent packaging up my kids' well-loved Legos for someone else who would love them just as much. It truly is a gift that keeps on giving, and they are much better placed than in a recycle bin or landfill!!

To learn more about RePlay and Lego's Sustainability practices, visit their website.

Some stats about their donations so far: 




Photos from my camera and compiled into canva.com. Lego Replay logo from replay lego recycling. Screencast statistics from https://www.lego.com/en-us/sustainability/environment/replay/ on November 24, 2021.