Do you ever get that feeling like you’re a child that’s been let loose in a sweet shop? I did, last week. But it wasn’t a sweet shop. It was the national scrapstores conference, organised by the sector’s umbrella organisation, ReusefulUK, of which I am a trustee.
If you’ve never come across scrapstores before, in a nutshell they are organisations that collect surplus materials from local industry and retailers for children’s creative play and artists’ projects.
Whether they’re reselling the contents of last season’s high street window displays, old wooden reels or excess felt from a Mini Cheddars conveyor belt, there is one thing in which scrapstores specialise, and that’s creative reuse.
The event left me even more wanting and wishing we had such a thing in this part of Suffolk.
It would certainly feed many an appetite for reuse and upcycling, which has been increasing in recent years. And for the uninitiated, there really is a lot going on locally.
From a creative perspective, it’s great to see new initiatives such as Innipooh’s upcycling workshops, run by local artist Trudi Edmunds, and which feature projects for adults and children – www.innipooh.com.
If you want to create new things from old fabrics but don’t have the sewing expertise, try The Thread Hub, which runs sewing classes and even includes UFO workshops for Un-Finished Objects –www.threadhub.co.uk.
And if you have broken jewellery or other interesting items, such as old broken ceramics, it is worth taking them to vintage specialist House of Huxster on Hatter Street, which might be able to upcycle them into something else.
Local charities are also getting creative with our unwanted goods.
Having recently donated half the contents of my loft to the British Heart Foundation, I discovered how the store can raise money from all sorts of things that don’t make it onto their shelves, including chipped crockery.
Elsewhere, Sue Ryder has an excellent upcycled furniture range, the quality of which is fantastic.
And I love that volunteers at Age UK Suffolk are now starting to make children’s clothes and toys, using quality fabrics from unsold items, which will be sold to raise more money for the charity. If you’d like to join their Sew Recycled group, telephone 07921 971029.
I know that recycling is a fundamental process in reducing our waste, but this creative business of reuse, upcycling and repair is a lot more interesting, making the most of what is already circulating in our homes and developing new skills within the social economy.
And in the world of electricals, there’s great stuff happening there too, with Restart Parties – www.restartproject.org.uk – having been launched by Sustainable Bury, featuring experts who are on hand to help fix gadgets for free.