Earth Day Recycled Milk Jug Tree 


Happy Earth Day, y’all! 

Obviously, I wanted to craft with the little one to celebrate and open a dialogue about loving the planet we rely on. Pinterest, however, was failing me this time. All of the crafts I saw were slightly beyond him- or would be nothing more than him painting something I labeled “earth” blue and green without any understand of the concept. While some were cute, I really appreciate crafts that allow us to start dialogues about new concepts. Taking my quest to the library, I found a slew of books that were also above his comprehension level. No dice, there either. So I changed my tactic. 

Rather than searching for a craft that would allow me to explain the concept of earth and planets to my two year old, I opted for this adorable plastic bag holder and focused on the idea saving plastic bags instead of throwing them out because it makes the outside messy and our animal friends sick. Bingo! Success! 

This plastic holder was a huge hit! He loved his tree and has spent a ton of time stuffing plastic bags in and pulling them out. Later that night, in the bath, he poured water out of the tub and told me “Teo ‘cycling, mama” when I asked what he was doing. So… minimally the concept of recycling – or the idea that such a word exists – stuck. I’m calling that a win. 


A couple notes: 

  • This is a two part craft. We painted. Then napped (so the tree could grow). Then assembled the tree once it was dry.
  • We painted the tree limbs brown. This is only because I didn’t have brown cardstock paper and didn’t think construction paper would hold up well. 
  • I cut the mouth out of the milk jug after it was painted to avoid him getting distracted and painting the inside of the jug or stopping to our random items in the mouth. 
  • I hot glued all the parts after the craft was complete to ensure they stuck around. Elmers glue didn’t really cut it with plastic and pipe cleaners. 

Materials: 

  • Empty milk or water jug- gallon size
  • Paint- green and brown (if you paint the tree limbs) 
  • Pipe cleaners 
  • Green construction paper 
  • Googly eyes (you could also make eyes out of paper or draw them on with a sharpie) 
  • A Pom Pom for the nose 
  • Glue
  • Scissor

Directions: 

  • To prep: rinse out an old milk or water jug, cut tree limbs out of either brown construction paper or white card stock paper, cut 4 leaves out of green construction paper and cut 2 green pipe cleaners in half to make 4 shorter ones. 
  • Set out green paint and let your little one paint the jug (tree) green. Let dry. 
  • Once dry, use a sharpie to draw a mouth and cut to create an open mouth. Have your little one attach the limbs with glue. They can use elmers glue to begin with. I would advise attaching with hot glue afterwards- as the Elmer’s doesn’t stick too well. 
  • Let them attach eyes and a nose. Add the pipe cleaners to the top of the bottle to create branches and add leaves. 
  • Let your little one fill the jug with plastic bags. 
  • Done! 

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