We strive to be good environmental stewards — leaving the environment better than we found it is important, and we believe a strong community has a crucial role in making that possible. That’s why we love our friends at Upcycle Parts Shop.
Upcycle Parts Shop is made up of a dream team that works to reduce waste, strengthen the community and get people inspired by turning one man’s trash into another man’s really cool art piece. We sat down with Michael Hudecek, Business Relations Manager at Upcycle Parts Shop and upcycle artist, to get the details.
What’s the philosophy behind upcycling?
Everything has worth. Upcycling is about recognizing something’s worth as it is and reforming it in a way that adds value. It’s about looking at something that you would usually throw away and imagining it as something new rather than waste.
It’s is a space for people to realize something’s potential. We take items that might end up in a landfill and encourage people to realize their worth and use them creatively. We have workshops, classes and a retail space to get people inspired to reuse creatively. We’re working to bring the community together and reduce waste while we’re at it.
Tell us a little bit about the community you guys work with.
Our space is in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. It’s very diverse, and there are a lot of really incredible organizations that are working to strengthen the community. A lot is going on in terms of enriching the neighborhood and making it a great place to live for its residents. The St. Clair Superior Development Corporation teamed up with us to help utilize the potential in the community and help it to thrive again.
So you use upcycling as a way to bring the community together and offer a creative outlet for the people living in this community. Do you coordinate events that benefit other groups of people?
We’re definitely into the idea of working with people outside of our community. We want to spread the love for upcycling everywhere! Travelcraft, our off-site program, is where we come to you and set up a craft session. We also have open studio time that we call Open Swim where $5 gets each crafter access to craft whatever they want with supplies valued at $1 or less. This event is free to residents living in the 44103 zip code! There’s also a free craft of the day, so there’s always something new.
What is your storefront like?
We like to say we’re a mashup between a thrift store and an arts supply shop. We sell the donated art supplies and some featured crafts. Our artistic director, Nicole McGee, came up with bottle blossoms to reuse plastic bottles, and we sell those in the store. Our friends a Recovery Resources prepare and paint the bottles. All profit goes back into supporting our work at Upcycle. We get a lot of grants and funding, and that’s where a lot of our money comes from.
Just how much waste is being saved from landfills thanks to Upcycle?
We’ve saved over 9 tons of material since opening. We’re getting close to 10 at this point. Knowing that we’ve helped keep that much waste out of the landfill all while helping the community is a great feeling.
What materials has Jakprints donated to Upcycle Parts Shop?
You guys have donated vinyl, foil, sticker cut offs and a few other odds and ends. We actually had to cut back on our donation hours from the public because we were running out of space. It’s amazing that people are thinking of us before they think of the landfill. There really aren’t too many limits on what can be donated. Everything has potential.
A strong community and a willingness to see the potential and worth in objects around you are just two ways that you can help leave the environment in better shape than you found it. Look around you and get inspired to use your hands and reuse those materials before you toss them in the trash.
Michael is an upcycle artist as well, making courier bags and backpacks out of new and repurposed materials under the name Forest City Portage.