Tossed, But Not Forgotten: Turning Trash Into Treasure

turning trash into treasure

4-H Kids Turning Trash Into Treasure

By Karen Rice • Official Kids Mag

Have you ever heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” Some kids in Northwest Arkansas are taking that saying to heart. They’re having fun while taking care of the earth, with a 4-H project that is literally turning trash into treasure.
Most kids know about recycling and how things we throw away (cans, bottles and paper) can be made into new things. But have you ever thought about reusing items to make art? How about turning trash into a sculpture?
Some kids from the Apple Spur 4-H Club in Northwest Arkansas did just that recently. They had fun cleaning up the earth and being creative too, in a program called “Tossed.” The program was created by Linda Simpson, Program Assistant for Urban Stormwater of the Benton County Arkansas Extension Service. Linda wants to help kids learn about litter and how it affects our environment.

“The kids are excited about picking up litter, wondering what they will find and figuring out how all the pieces will fit together for a sculpture,” she says.
First, kids and their parents picked up litter in their communities here in Arkansas. They spent a few hours cleaning up all sorts of trash: empty bottles, papers, cans and more. Then the fun part began. They made crazy sculptures out of the trash they found! They entered their works of art in the Benton County Fair and Secchi Day sculpture contests. People voted for the winners.
Linda says not only is litter ugly to look at, but it’s very bad for the environment in Northwest Arkansas. Trash finds its way into our creeks, streams and rivers. It hurts wildlife. It costs money for cities. It creates unnecessary work for the people responsible for cleaning up public spaces. Linda hopes the program will help kids and adults learn how to make the earth a better place to live and protect the water we need to drink, take a bath, wash our dishes and more.
Now, the kids are busy picking up more litter to get “supplies” for the new sculptures they’ll make and enter in the next year’s Benton County Fair.  Adults or children can enter, individually or in groups. Your sculpture must be made only out of litter that has been picked up in the community. Clean up the earth and have fun being creative too!

Anyone can participate in “Tossed”, follow this link for registration help!

For more information contact Linda at or call (479) 271-1060.


What’s the most unusual thing you found while picking up trash?
“A box cutter”
“A metal rod taller than me”
“A torn-up American flag”
“Metal wire”
“Aluminum cans in piles, in odd places”
“Bottles still full of drinks. That is wasting money…you might as well have just thrown the money in the toilet and flushed it.”

Why do you think it’s important to pick up litter?
“Because it’s not healthy for us or our surroundings.”
“Because if our world becomes polluted enough we won’t have enough fresh oxygen and we will die.”
“Getting trash off the earth helps animals live and things grow.”
“The environment is the most important thing we have to leave for the next generation, and it’s a shame to ruin it by being careless.”

How did you feel about picking up other people’s trash?
“It made me feel frustrated to know that people throw trash out.”
“It makes me feel very mad. Because people are ruining the environment.”
“I hate that people are so lazy and don’t care where their trash ends up.”
“People are so disrespectful. Our world is polluted enough.”“It makes me mad that people don’t care. They should try to keep the earth clean.”
“I wonder how they feel about others in the community serving because of their inaction.”
“I don’t think it’s fair to leave trash for someone else to pick up.”

What was the best thing about picking up litter?
“I don’t like picking up others’ trash, but if I don’t do it, who will?”
“It makes me proud to know I helped the earth by removing trash.”
“It made me feel good to know I can help the community.”
“My favorite part is knowing that I make a difference in keeping the earth clean.”
“I enjoy getting together with my friends to do good deeds.”
“It was sad, but it was also good to be of service to others.”
“I liked the feeling that I am helping the environment. It made me have like a tingly feeling inside.”

What will you create with the items you picked up?
“I’m thinking about making a windmill.”
“It’s going to be very creative.”
“No one else is going to think of it, ever.”
“Last year I created a small coffin of cigarette butts. This year I hope to send a similar message.”

We know a lot of kids who recycle! Follow this link to meet them!