ReUse Center Hosts Creative Workshop

Photo By Robin Weinstein

In an effort to encourage transforming everyday materials into useful objects instead of throwing them away, the New Paltz ReUse Center held “Creative Minds,” a material repurposing event on Saturday, Jan.  12.

“It was an all-day event. People came and went,” New Paltz Recycling Coordinator Laura Petit said. “Initially, we had five people in the morning and about 40 through the given day. It was neat.”

Among the repurposed creations was a vase made out of pink rings glued to a wooden disk, an incense holder made from scrap wooden material and a stamper made out of vinyl tile samples and wood.

Taylor Eccleston, a 15-year-old Pinebush resident, attended the event with her mother, Sherri. The two created candlestick holders, wind chimes out of wooden circles and abstract pictures.

Petit said the variety of creations reflects the unique ways people see the materials.

“Everybody looks at things differently,” Petit said.

Petit, who has been working in the recycling business for 25 years, said the idea for the event developed over time.

The ReUse Center decided to host “Creative Minds” after they came up with an idea to put art projects made out of recycled materials together as pre-packaged kits.

“Creative Minds” was one of the many events hosted by the ReUse Center in an effort to support the “Zero Waste Action Plan,” an Environmental Protection Agency pilot project. New Paltz is one out of 13 communities across the nation to be part of this plan.

In 2011, the Town of New Paltz was contacted by the EPA and asked to take part in the initiative. From there, public input sessions were held in order to put together community support.

“If we didn’t have the support from the community, the programs weren’t going to work,” Petit said.

With a little help from networking and the input meetings, the community responded positively and began to get excited about it, Petit said.

The ReUse Center has created 100 yards of compostable material to date, some of which can be accredited to SUNY New Paltz’s Hasbrouck Dining Hall and the local Stop & Shop.

Petit said she sees a difference in what is brought to the center, which she attributes to the effectiveness of programs such as “Creative Minds” in raising awareness for reusable items.

“People who normally came in with two or three bags only come in with one,” she said.

The ReUse Center is in the process of organizing a “Project Runway” event in the spring where participants will construct fashions out of recycled materials.

A “Tool Fix It” workshop, led by Wolf Bravo, will be held at the center on Saturday, Jan.  26. Participants will work to fix broken everyday tools and if they succeed, they get to take them home.

Although trash is inevitable, Petit said there are a variety of ways to combat and help lessen the amount.

“There’s no way that there will never be any garbage, but we can reduce it,” Petit said.