As community members of all ages limit their physical interactions with each other and shelter in place, many are turning to creative outlets to reduce stress or just pass the time. Some families suddenly have way more little hands around the house, and too few things to do with them.

SCRAP Humboldt, the county’s local creative reuse center, offers these waste-conscious ways creativity can keep folks engaged and bring people together even when they’re apart.

· Create a cardboard castle, dragon, princess hat or warrior outfit. No other material is as versatile as the cardboard box. Paper towel rolls make excellent tunnels for tiny car races or legs for a robot. Use a sheet and a lamp to create a shadow puppet theater where cut-out cardboard creatures can play. If you want to go the extra eco-mile, you can even do it all without using tape or glue by cutting slots and tabs or employing reusable fasteners like twist ties. Show off your creation online. #cardboardcreation.

· Learn a new skill. While your friend is stress knitting covers for all the furniture, you can pick up a new crafty skill of your own. Engaging in learning can be an empowering way for people to feel like they have some control over something … even if it’s just one little project. Online courses and videos abound. Find one that suits you and take a plunge. You may even find an online community of folks to talk to about your new hobby and discover new friends near or far.

· Create a kinetic sculpture. Do you have a rubber band? A spring-loaded mousetrap? Then, you have an engine for a mini kinetic sculpture. Use Popsicle sticks or those un-recyclable plastic straws you’ve been too embarrassed to drink from. Create a pinwheel from an old class binder. Make a wind chime from mismatched flatware. Cut out shapes from colorful translucent bottles for a sun and wind catcher. Make it a tiny STEAM learning challenge and make something that moves.

· Celebrate what’s safe. There are still so many fun and enriching activities that don’t involve a danger to public health. Find a lovely little spot and draw it. Sit in your yard and write a poem about your dog. Setting aside a moment to remind yourself what is still good and worth being thankful for has scientifically provable benefits for a person’s mental and emotional health. (www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude)

· Play “Keep/Gift/Donate.” Tidying up an untouched corner of your house can be immensely uplifting. You’ll gain space and, if you are able to pass along useful things to someone who can use them, you’ll be doing some good at the same time. Sort that clutter into three categories: keep, gift, donate. Keep the things you wish to keep. Gift things to people you know who will love them. Donate the rest to an organization that can use them. Just don’t be tempted to go back through the boxes while they are waiting for those organizations to open to the public again.

SCRAP Humboldt, part of a national nonprofit network of creative reuse centers, is dedicated to diverting materials from the waste stream through the collection and resale of creative materials both traditional and inventive. Follow SCRAP Humboldt for ideas and instructions on how to turn everyday items into inspiration, and search social media for #SCRAPtogether to find all the ways SCRAP is creating creative connections.



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