I have just spend over an hour, childishly excited about sorting through shelves and boxes worth of stuff, all saved from the scrapheap by an enterprising recycling initiative in Portland (OR), aptly named “Scrap“.
It’s a positive haven for crafty folk like me, looking for a bit of inspiration, a bit of shiny paper, material scraps, bottle caps, wood blocks, old maps, beermats and a whole host of other odds and ends. Not only is there hidden treasure galore, but the prices are incredible. I’ve just walked away with a large laminated map of the United States (for tracking my Space Nomad adventures on – see spacekate.com), a very cool 1988 Portland Jazz festival poster, five small vials of glitter, a bunch of circuit board scraps, two more maps, some tiny musical note Christmas tree decorations, two pages of sheet music, a microfiche of Time magazine from 1976, a notebook, half a roll of sellotape, a small roll of magnetic tape, two short pieces of ribbon, an old photograph of an AP photo of an Apollo 10 astronaut’s daughter, a packet of beads, some wooden craft blanks, some button blanks and a bag full of voltage regulators.
How much did my grand haul cost me? Five dollars. Yep! $5. And not only am I happy with my new-found craft inspiration and materials, I’ve helped keep this stuff from being dumped into a landfill site. Everyone’s a winner!
So how does this place work? Why don’t we have one of these where I live?
Scrap was originally set-up by a group of teachers who didn’t like the idea of throwing things away at the end of school projects, so they created a space where they could take them and other teachers could also use their leftovers. This grew and grew and they began soliciting for leftovers from local companies. It’s a non-profit organisation that exists to “inspire creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community”.
It’s wonderful. The combination of not knowing what you’ll find, rummaging and finding hidden gems, having a great array of craft materials to help new ideas spring to life and then the joy of it being so cheap. If you want to get rid of your old art materials – you can just take them in and share them with the community. They’ve even got a gallery and a workshop space. It’s wonderful.
The UK sends over 100 million tonnes of waste to landfill sites every year. I wonder how much of that could be rescued and recycled with innovative schemes like Scrap? Somebody, please make this happen in London!