Renew, Reuse, Adapt

Several years ago i had the opportunity to meet a creative force to be reckoned with names Nicole McGee.  She is completely dedicated to taking what most people would cast off and toss in the land fill, and make something innovative from it.  She re purposes samples of vinyl flooring into jewelry, and flower bouquets.  In fact, if you have eaten at any of the Aladdin restaurants in the area you have seen her work on those cute little table centerpieces.

Nicole McGee with some of her creations... flowers, and jewelry.
Nicole McGee with some of her creations… flowers, and jewelry.

Last week she contacted me to ask for several samples of my ReBlooming Bags, to be put in a storefront window for the Cleveland Flea (a pop up shop)  and the first ever Cleveland Kurentovanje, an Slovak festival held in the St Clair Superior neighborhood of Cleveland last Saturday   Nicole is working on a grant to create an art zone for upcycle and recycle artists in that neighborhood.  While her grant is submitted she has a number of steps to go before she will learn her fate of funding.  I was so pleased to meet her and supply my bags for the display.  Her ideas are bright and fresh and innovative.  And certain to succeed.

OK, so what is Upcycle?  Its not a fancy word for recycle.  Instead it means

Nicole carefully cuts to the bottoms of pop bottles and paints them, strings them on wire for interesting floral displays.
Nicole carefully cuts to the bottoms of pop bottles and paints them, strings them on wire for interesting floral displays.

finding a new purpose for something that is done.  Nicole’s example is to take vinyl flooring, cut it and make it into either flowers, or jewelry… In the photo at right Nicole uses bottoms of pop bottles, that are cut, painted, and put together with linoleum centers, and a wire stem. Lovely for a unique center piece or light catching display.

So it is thrilling to be a part of the upcycle movement in Northeastern Ohio.  I had not realized until recently how desiprately limited the space is for trash to be dumped, and how most of the garbage collection companies are so actively sorting the garbage for plastics, paper, and other material that can be spared from the landfill, and recycled or repurposed.

I was raised with parents that lived through the Great Depression of the 1930’s and were thrifty, saving whenever and however they could, so the upcycle idea was a part of my life long  before it became popular again.   I must admit that

This was my first venture to making backpacks... saved amazing colors like flaminco pink, and deep pinkey-browns....
This was my first venture to making backpacks… saved amazing colors like flaminco pink, and deep pinkey-browns….

there was a time when i wanted to run from the idea of adaptive reuse, of saving bags, giving way to the lure of spending money… but these last few years I have found a new passion for upcycling with my plastic bag crochet which i have named “ReBlooming Bags”.  It has become a purposed reason among my friends to save bags for me, and to look for unusual colors.  And it is giving birth in my heart to an idea that I could create an economic incubator that provides income for others while we save the planet one plastic bag at a time.

The dream is alive:  And my dream of starting a small economic incubator that would pay a small brigade of people to crochet my Reblooming Bags, and leave me to find outlets to sell them.  I remain inspired by so many others who have taken an idea, a simple product, and found that as they took that product to market that the demand increased exponentially.    And with this new venture to create a neighborhood designated as Upcycle Artist Zone, it might open a new market for the bags.  So what are my next steps?

1. find someone that could help with a nice, decent video where i pitch the idea

2. fine tune the proposal, and submit it for crowd source funding

3. pray hard!!!

4. move forward with the plan of recruiting my reblooming assistants.

5. bring product to market.

So Thank You Nicole McGee for your encouragement of my Upcycle Work.  I am so pleased to be a part of the movement to spare our landfills from being overburdened by materials that can have new uses.