Two Remix Strategies for Sustainable Creative STEM Activities


Back in December 2022, we ran a series of weekly social hours for library professionals trying out our Self-guided Mini Course. In one of the conversations, the topic of plastic trash from library creative programming came up. One librarian mentioned that she was saddened to see that at then end of a creative STEAM workshop, the trash bin had become the final receptacle for many of the creations that patrons had happily made.

That emotion stuck with me. I wondered, what could librarians do to inspire people to use less plastic and create less trash?

  • Could we maybe adapt or remix some of our PLIX activities to be more earth-friendly, to have creations that people would enjoying keeping?
  • How can PLIX foster more joy to encourage patrons to keep their creations, and also bring more satisfaction to librarians who put so much heart into these library programs?

So, in preparation for Earth Day 2023, I had a series of conversations with Lissette Gonzalez, of Berkeley Public Library, who was there at the social hour. (Check out one of our early conversations here.) We brainstormed different ways to remix creative STEAM activities to be more sustainable, came up with two ideas, and co-facilitated a workshop together mid-April to share these two strategies below.

  • Reimagine and refuse: Reimagine how you can use the stuff you already have (probably do this a lot already) and refuse (new or single-use) plastics. Set an example for others!
  • Games over garbage: Change the activity to focus on making games that people can play together, and continue playing together even after the library programming.

These are not new ideas! Librarians already do a lot to recruit second-hand materials from their community, and well as teach patrons what is and isn't recyclable, to reduce the waste from "wish-cycling." Plus, many library programs like story time, that are more interactive, focused on human interaction, do not generate much trash.

To see these strategies in action, check out this PLIX forum thread for two remix activities. One is an example of Beautiful Symmetry, using the "games over garbage" remix on the PLIX forum, that also includes space for playful movement. The other one remixes Urban Ecology to "Map the Plastic" in your urban wild, and wonder about why they're there and where they came from.

We hope these remix strategies inspire you to adapt your own activities to be more playful and model earth-friendly habits for your peers, library patrons, and friends.

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