October 3, 2012

One Person's Trash Is...

One person's trash is happily spread out all over my living room floor. (Some day I will have a studio bigger than a closet where I can make messes - er, work - leave works in progress where they lie, and close the door rather than pick everything up before dinner only to spread it all out again the next morning. Some day.) In this case the trash is expired decorator and upholstery samples rescued from the landfill. 

When I say, "rescued from the landfill," I occasionally picture myself battling the vultures and bulldozers on a stinking heap of trash, delicately and heroically picking fabric treasures out of the muck.  (Which is more likely, this scenario or a right-sized studio in my future?) My reality is much more pedestrian. Although, if you'd like to imagine my heroic deeds as described above, I, for one, have no objection. 

Just because I don't pick over my local landfill, doesn't mean others don't. There's a fantastic film about hard working folks in Rio de Janeiro who make a living plucking and selling recyclables out of the world's largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho. They scavenge and sell about 200 tons of material every day. Waste Land is a documentary about members of the Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho (ACAMJG) and the collaborative photographic project Vik Muniz does with them. Unlike other "compassionate" photography, the collaborators were paid for their participation and sales of the resulting photographs belong to ACAMJG, not Muniz.

Back to my own landfill denial missions. Where does the material for Odd Bird Studio wares come from? When I lived in North Carolina, I purchased 80 plus pounds of rescued fabric from the Scrap Exchange, a creative reuse center in Durham. The Scrap Exchange has established relationships with area design and decorator shops, who donate, rather than trash, their fabric scraps, surplus, and expired samples. The Scrap Exchange then offers these rescued fabrics (amongst a mind boggling array of other donated materials) for sale at low costs to the general public.

Now in Ohio, I am trying to find new resources. The fabrics pictured below are part of the carton of expired fabric samples I picked up at ZeroLandfill in Cincinnati. Operating seasonally since 2006 (meaning, the ZeroLandfill Cincinnati group has pick-up opportunities once a year), "the ZeroLandfill™ project team has partnered with the architectural and interior design community in identifying, diverting from local landfills and re-purposing back into the community over 882,000 pounds of expired specification samples that hold value for other audiences." Visit this link to find out if there is a ZeroLandfill near you.

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