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Show your kids how recycling works with this homemade papermaking bowl project. It takes a little effort, but it's also a lot of squishy, messy fun.

 

What you'll need:

  • Scrap paper (anything from old envelopes to used construction paper)
  • Blender
  • Mesh kitchen sieve
  • 2 bowls, one a size or two larger than the sieve, the other slightly smaller than the sieve (don't worry if it's not exact; you'll be layering kitchen towels on top of it)
  • White glue
  • Kitchen towel(s)
  • Large wooden or plastic spoon

What you'll do:

Rip up all the paper into little shreds. You know your kids will be good at this! The more paper you have, the larger and sturdier the bowl will be.

Fill the blender about halfway with paper shreds and then fill with warm water. Put the lid on tight, and start on low speed. Increase to medium speed and blend until no large shreds of paper remain.

Pour this mixture (called a slurry at a paper factory) into your large bowl. Repeat with the remaining paper shreds. If the mixture looks too thick, add water to make a loose, runny consistency. Add a few drops of white glue to the mixture and blend.

Holding your sieve over the bowl, scoop the mixture into the sieve and mash it firmly against the sides, slowly building it up the walls of the sieve to make the bowl's sides. Compact the pulp firmly against the sides of the sieve to make the structure strong.

Continue until your bowl looks sturdy. Don't make the walls of the bowl more than 1/4-inch thick, though, or it will take too long to dry. Press hard against the walls of your bowl using your fingers or a spoon to push out as much water as possible.

Turn the smaller of the two bowls upside-down and cover it with a kitchen towel, being sure to make it as smooth as possible. Quickly invert the sieve onto the bowl and gently tap it to release your recycled paper bowl -- this may take a little fiddling, but you can always make little repairs while it's still damp.

Place it near a heat source or a fan and wait for your recycled masterpiece to dry!

Learn more about America Recycles Day.

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