By Liesl Clark
After years of summer aquatic fun in 6 inches of baby pool magic with toddlers, my conscience took over and had issues with the unsustainable reality of the kiddie pool: Most inflatables get holes in them and whether they’re air-filled or hard plastic they’re made of PVC and laden with Bisphenol A, a toxic cocktail for Earthlings just starting out on the planet.
We recently found a kiddie pool under our guesthouse deck, left behind by our renter, a mass of vinyl, pine needles, and hidden slugs. We cleaned it up with some high powered squirts from the garden hose and some serious scrubbing. I started inflating the thing by mouth in that way that Moms, Dads, and Loved Ones dedicated to preserving summer bliss can do, only to find that there was a small leak. Summer bliss had hit a road block
Fix It: Repairing inflatables is as simple as fixing a bike tire tube or thermarest for camping. We got out the tube repair kit and made a quick patch and the inflating resumed. But it got me thinking. How many plastic kiddie pools are thrown out in our community each year? Likely hundreds. All that vinyl, headed to the landfill because someone didn’t have a patch kit or couldn’t deal with the gross slug slime-n-pine grime.
Reduce and Refuse: And then I discovered some cool alternatives to the plastic kiddie pool. Our favorite is the metal stock tank, as featured at Style Lush.
For real inspiration, check out the little stock tank pool, designed by reuse innovator, Jesse Hartman, heated by his barbecue.
But if a stock tank isn’t in your future, Safe Mama has put together a cheat sheet of PVC and BPA-free kiddie pools that are a step above the options I had when my kids were really little. The EverEarth inflatable pool is made of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) which according to EverEarth is biodegradable and phthalate-free.
When you’re done with it, hopefully it’s still in working order for you to pass your pool on to another family that will frolic freely in their freecycled frog pool. Or, if you have a hard plastic kid pool, donate it to your nearest animal rescue center for use by aquatic birds, fowl, and domestic animals escaping summer heat.
You might want to hang on to it, however, when you discover some of the upcycle options for that prized pool.
Hard Plastic Kiddie Pools:
1) Yahoo Voices has 5 great reuse ideas including turning your pool into a sandbox or an indoor sensory pit for your little tykes.
2) Turn your pool and a few others into a raised bed garden. Wandering Chopsticks has a simple tutorial for you to follow for adding some green (and veggies) to your backyard.
3) If you have a party coming up and need to keep a lot of food cold while serving, Thrifty Fun’s wading pool cool food server might be just what you’re looking for.
Inflatable Kiddie Pools:
4) Turn your inflatable pool into a raincoat or shower curtain. Or, cut the remnants into simple flower shapes, stack a few of various sizes on top of each other, and stitch the vinyl blossoms onto your reusable grocery bags for added flair. Design Stash has a great tutorial for you to follow.
5) Transform your pool into a bike messenger bag. Luke Harris at Lunke13 made a bag from his pool, with his favorite shirt as liner.
6) Turn your deflated pool into a slippy slide! Just turn it upside down on a little slope and add a trickle of water.
7) Then add a few drops of environmentally-safe liquid soap and watch the fun and bubbles explode!
8) Finally, artist Helmut Smits from The Netherlands put together a kiddie pool fountain installation to entice the imagination. You’d certainly wow the neighbors with such a piece in your garden.Visit his website to learn what other materials he used to create this work of art.
Looking for more kiddie pool reuses? Visit our Trash Backwards App for ideas and inspirations to keep them and just about everything else out of the landfill:
Do you have a kiddie pool reuse you’re proud of? Please let us know so we can add your solution to our growing database of upcycle options for all things under the summer sun.