I could blame a very popular pup on TV who instructs our children to not lose it, “reuse it!” Or I could blame the abundance of Amazon boxes in my house.

Whatever the cause, I think I’m raising an upcycling hoarder.

boy playing with recycled artMy 4 year old started repurposing trash—really recyclables—for his art projects the summer we PCS’d back to the States from Japan. Initially, I did not think much of it. I figured he was undergoing so many changes that there was no harm in letting him draw on junk mail or turn a moving box into a fort now and then.

It wasn’t until I tried to actually recycle or throw away his “art” that I noticed his growing attachment to his art. His precious collection belonged in a landfill rather than an art gallery.

I have become desperate. It has come to the point that I have to wait until he’s at preschool to purge his stash of upcycling treasures.

Sometimes I get fed up and try to clean up the clutter on his art table (aka my dining room table) when he’s home. Fighting ensues. I have to enlist my husband to distract him while I sneak a trash bag out to the garage. It is a whole big thing. I usually lose this battle of wills; he’s only 4 years old, and I realize I am an adult about 10 minutes into this crazy argument. 

But I have discovered that I am not alone in this predicament.

Recently we went to his best friend’s house for a play date. Strewn across his art table were paper towel and toilet paper rolls, empty tissue boxes, and used wrapping paper. I asked his Mom about his similar affinity for upcycling trash into treasures. She had the same stories that I do—clandestinely cleansing his cache of recyclables, fighting over throwing away legitimate garbage, and trying to distract him with purchased art supplies. 

My suspicions that this was a trend among the 4 to 5-year-old set were confirmed when I was on speakerphone with my friend. I started pleading with my son to leave the empty pasta and soda boxes in the recycling. Meanwhile, he was busy ignoring me and starting yet another artistic endeavor. My friend confided that her son, now 8, used to sneak old cereal boxes to serve as homes for his action figures. 

I suppose that in a world where we are inundated with plastic that will outlive our children’s children, I should be grateful that my son is doing his part.

homemade ForkyThere are tons of upcycling ideas on Pinterest and other sites. Perhaps I should have seen this coming when Forky became his new favorite Disney character; he even went so far as to create his own version with the help of some markers, google eyes, popsicle sticks, and tape. Honestly, it is not the worst hobby he could have adopted.

It’s just that sometimes, like every Thursday morning, the trash truck comes.

Hopefully, this is the most frustrating phase I endure over the next 13 plus years, but I have a feeling that this will seem cute and quirky in comparison.

Have you lived through an upcycling to art phase? I am open to any advice to help me survive the clutter!

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