Cleaning Out the Craft Closet

March is National Youth Art Month. I am in full support of the effort to promote arts education and provide creative outlets for our children. There is a special sense of pride every child gets from getting their artwork stuck on the fridge, on display at the fair, or put up at school for all to see. Older students can start using the visual and technical skills provided from arts to create gallery-worthy pieces or even begin working towards a connected career. These masterpieces do have a down-side though in the creation of waste, some of which can be hazardous.

From left-over paint, scraps of paper, and bits of tape it can be difficult to focus on reducing our waste while also trying to assist in the creation of art. I will outline some ways to properly dispose of artistic waste and ways to reduce your waste without dampening yours or your child’s artistic expression. and some ideas for projects you can do in March to encourage the creation of art.

Paper is involved in multiple stages of creating art. Your project may involve canvas, potentially a sketch or test paper, papier-mâché, you may even use the newspaper you’re reading this article in to lay down and protect your floor from paint spills. But how are you supposed to reduce the use of a material that can be so crucial?

 First, you can aim to buy recycled paper when buying from the store or online. After you have already used your paper, you have a few options. You could just paint over the original painting thus saving yourself money from buying a new canvas and giving new life to an old frame. If you are using canvas, you may want to use a piece of sandpaper first to sand down the texture and make it even before painting over it.

To re-use the canvas of an oil painting, wipe over it with an onion which will soften the paint. Then use your hand to wipe linseed or walnut oil over it. Find which oil was in the paint you used and use that same oil for wiping it with. Finally, wipe the painting clean with a clean paper towel. You can then paint the canvas with burnt umber to prevent the old painting from showing through. Wait a few weeks for it to completely dry before beginning a new work.

Re-using paper is more difficult. You can always turn it over and use the back of the sheet so that you can have two for the price of one! You could incorporate pieces of the paper into a collage to create a new piece. On our website,, you can find a previous article outlining how to create your own paper out of used paper. You could add this to your craft to-do list and use old drawings to create new blank spaces. Your creations can also be soaked and used for papier-mâché.

Paint can last for a long time. Sometimes up to fifteen years before becoming unusable! If you have paint you would rather get rid of consider donating it to a local school, church, or even friend that may get more use out of it. If you have no takers for your paint, you can properly dispose of it every third Saturday of each month at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 4189 Old Dixie Highway from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This month’s collection will be held this Saturday, March 17.  Just bring your properly labeled containers with no leaks and we will take care of the rest.

If you would like to embrace the spirit of the month and encourage art creation head to our Facebook page, Recycling Ben, to find videos of crafts focused on re-using or up-cycling that you can teach or do on your own.

Amy Hartline is the Recycling and Education Program Coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.  Have a recycling question?  Contact her at 706-278-5001, or e-mail