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Creative reuse marketplace ‘Don’t Toss It’ supports upcycling in NJ

| December 5, 2013

We so often discuss the restrictions on recycling—how recyclable materials can become contaminated and the large number of things that can’t be placed in the recycling bins in the first place. But, if you get creative, you can give almost anything a second life.

That’s the message that a new “creative reuse marketplace” hopes to get across. Don’t Toss It opened last month in Lambertville, NJ. The multi-use space sells furniture, jewelry, accessories and more made from re-purposed materials; displays artwork from artists dedicated to upcycling; and hosts workshops.

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Inside Don’t Toss It.

Throughout the basement-level location, you’ll find an array of surplus materials that, with the right amount of creative thinking, could become something useful (or at least decorative). At one of the two open house receptions Don’t Toss It held in mid-November, there were piles of wooden toy blocks, crystals pulled from a chandelier, and even entire packs of the plastic barbs that attach price tags to clothing. Many of the materials are donated (in fact, they’ve already partnered with local businesses to collect their excess materials and reduce waste), which means the stock is continually changing.

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Workshops will be held in this section of the space.

Concerned that you wouldn’t have the slightest clue what to do with most of this stuff? That’s where the workshops come in. Area artists plan to teach painting, sewing, jewelry-making, and other skills in one- to two-hour classes. While over in the gallery portion of the marketplace, works constructed from cardboard and used paint by North Carolina artist Robb Damman hang on the walls. His pieces will be on view through mid January.

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Assorted materials, including keys, wooden toys, and plastic tag barbs.

The founders of Don’t Toss It, Pamela Chamberlain and Nora Mathews, first began giving back to both the community and the environment with their website, ArtfullyReimagined.com. As a part of this effort, they established the “Reimagine It” grant, which donates 5 percent of profits to artists who embrace repurposing.

Don’t Toss It is open Wednesday through Sunday for the holiday-shopping season. So while you won’t get intense Black Friday discounts here, you can feel good about supporting artists that make a point of diverting reusable materials from landfills. (Might we suggest an elegant hair comb made from found and repaired jewelry? Or, perhaps, a bench constructed from reclaimed wood?)

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Robb Damman’s artwork hanging in the gallery portion of the space.

Plus, as you may have gathered, Don’t Toss It is more than a store: in the future Chamberlain and Mathews plan to devise public awareness campaigns, launch scholarship programs with local colleges, and, of course, find additional ways to support the careers of “green” artists.

For more on Don’t Toss It, visit the website.

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Category: Recycling programs

About the Author ()

At SmartSign, Monica manages and contributes to various blogs. Prior to joining the SmartSign content team, she helped produce and manage content for online publications, including NYmag.com and StyleCaster.com. Monica studied journalism and French at New York University and attended the Columbia Publishing Course, where she learned the ins and outs of book, magazine and digital publishing. She grew up in Philadelphia, Tucson and Central New Jersey, but has called New York home for the past six years, and has lived in Brooklyn, specifically, for the last two. When not reading up on the latest in waste management for RecycleReminders, she enjoys reading long-form journalism, contemporary fiction and restaurant menus.

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