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Scraps KC finds treasure in the trash

By In the News, Uncategorized

January 20, 2021  Beth Lipoff

Photo by Travis Young / Scraps KC is Kansas City’s first creative reuse center. Scraps KC is located at 3269 Roanoke Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111.

If you’re artistic but don’t fancy dumpster-diving to find inspiring materials, there’s a much cleaner way to find objects to recycle into creative endeavors. Scraps KC has been repackaging and repurposing artsy materials for years. 

In the last four years, they’ve steered approximately 170 tons of supplies away from landfills, estimates Brenda Mott, Scraps KC’s executive director.

“We educate people on the environment. We try to focus on reduce, reuse, and refuse, rather than recycle, because recycling uses a lot of our precious resources,” Mott says. 

Scraps KC partners with schools and educators in a few ways. A few schools collect end of year school supplies that kids would throw out and give them to Scraps KC, and Scraps KC provides many educators with classroom supplies when they need them.

Photo by Travis Young / Rachel Morningstar sifting through wooden blocks at Scraps KC. Scraps KC is Kansas City’s frist creative reuse center. Scraps KC is located at 3269 Roanoke Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111.

And there’s a bonus—the profits go toward helping homeless folks in Kansas City as well as education programs.

“Our main goal is to transform things that are unwanted into things that have value, whether it’s a half-used tube of paint, and it creates a beautiful picture, or whether it’s somebody who sleeps on the street, and we can provide some friendship, some food, hopefully move them off the street and walk with them as they move into a new environment,” Mott says. “Those are the transformations that we love to see.”

It’s not just the money that helps, either. Mott encourages anyone to volunteer, homeless or housing secure, and everyone works together to clean and restore materials. She estimates between one and five homeless volunteers turn up each day, with many returning weekly or monthly.

“It breaks down barriers of our community members with the homeless as they work side-by-side with them,” Mott says.

Photo by Travis Young / Chelsey Davis looking through art supplies at Scraps KC. Scraps KC is Kansas City’s frist creative reuse center. Scraps KC is located at 3269 Roanoke Rd, Kansas City, MO 64111.

Although they do provide some supplies to homeless people, it’s truly a team effort. Those who receive supplies volunteer inside the store.

“We also think it also builds them up and helps them feel differently about themselves gives them hope for moving forward. Not everyone wants to get off the street, but we want to be here to support them. Even those people who want to stay on the street forever, they may come to us for real information,” Mott says.

Many homeless folks came to them for pandemic information in the face of numerous rumors they’d heard. 

This whole operation didn’t all come together immediately. When Mott started, she thought she’d recycle milk jugs and fruit clamshells—but there was a problem.

“It turned out nobody wanted those,” Mott says. “Then all of the sudden, the creative community had heard of us, and they started bringing us paints and specialty papers and textiles and that’s really where we transformed what we reused and what we sold for reuse.”

In addition to paints and papers, Scraps KC has a large stock of fabric, notions—and pretty much anything else you might need to express yourself creatively. All of it is based on donations.

“We’ve never done any advertising or marketing. Everything is word of mouth or social media. People come for specific reasons [like] art supplies they don’t want to give to another resale store. They know somebody who really wants them is going to find them here,” Mott says.

Folks helping their parents downsize might bring in the entire contents of a sewing room.

A color-coordinated assortment of fabrics at Scraps KC. // Photo by Travis Young

“We sometimes get very neatly organized donations, like a nice baggie full of pom-poms. Sometimes, we get a drawer dumped into a box. Sometimes, we get one pom-pom,” Mott says.

That’s where the volunteers shine. They measure, sort, and repackage things so they’re more useful to those who come to shop at Scraps KC.

Gladstone resident Blaine Shepherd, a graduate student studying costuming, missed working in his school’s costume shop as he took his classes online. He found Scraps KC when he went hunting for fabric.

“I really like doing the mundane tasks of rolling the fabric and organizing it and making it look good. Now they utilize my skills in fabric identification and what I know through costuming. I give advice on what I would want to buy or what’s the worst of something,” he says. 

Although he volunteers in the store once a week, he also brings home projects to work on in between his shifts.

“It’s really nice to be appreciated for those skills when you don’t have a costume shop where you can channel those skills,” Shepherd says.

Kaitlin West makes Christmas crafts with her 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter in the Make and Take section of the store. // Photo by Travis Young

For Nora Utech, a physical therapist from Lenexa, volunteering was a way to get out of the house.

“It’s nice for me to have a task where I can use my hands and unplug from technology for a bit. There’s always something to do, always something different,” Utech says.

The welcoming atmosphere has also made Utech’s experience a good one.

“Everybody there has been really friendly. They treat you with a lot of respect. [They’re] welcoming to all walks of life,” she says.

Both Shepherd and Utech began volunteering during the pandemic.

True to its varied stock, Scraps KC does a little bit of everything, from working with a community garden to advising Girl Scouts on STEM to teaching individuals how they can best help people who are homeless.

“It all blends together so beautifully. We’re able to take seeds and replant them from vegetables we may have had. Then we teach kids about the garden and use that food to feed the homeless,” Mott says. “It’s just this whole cycle of how things intertwine so easily.”


Scraps KC

3269 Roanoke Rd, Kansas City, MO

scrapskc.org

Scraps KC continues to hold workshops on Zoom and at its 3269 Roanoke Road location, with social distancing and masks.

For more information on their programs, visit scrapskc.org/eventsCATEGORIES: CULTURETags: ArtBlaine ShepherdBrenda Mottcreative reuseeducationenvironmental awarenessNora UtechScraps KCvolunteering

Maker City KC newsletter: What are your plans for Saturday night? Check out ReVision by ScrapsKC

By In the News

BY CHRIS HAGHIRIAN AND BOB MARTIN, MAKER CITY KC CONTRIBUTOR OCTOBER 10, 2019 08:29 AM (original store here)

I love Kansas City and we know how to pack our weekends full of cool events. Every once in a while an event climbs to the top of the pile and demands attention, one of those events is happening this weekend. It’s an inaugural event and fashion show called ReVision, happening this Saturday, October 12. It sounds like the foundation for another great and unique KC event and it’s all happening to give hope and help to the homeless.

A couple weeks ago Maker City KC contributor, Bob Martin, wrote a feature about ScrapsKC. It was my introduction to this amazing organization. They are Kansas City’s first creative reuse center that helps artists and also helps the homeless. Their non-profit store is located at 3269 Roanoke Road and they are an exercise in social entrepreneurism that repurposes donated art supplies and found objects and sells them to provide hope for the homeless.

Scraps KC operates on the funds generated by sales, grants and donations, but more is needed to support its growth. To that end, the facility is presenting its inaugural ReVision Fashion Show from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, October 12. Tickets are available HERE and start at $20.

ScrapsKC ReVision: More Than Just a Fashion Show

By In the News
A Model and Designer Talk at the ScrapsKC ReVision Fashion Show.
Designer Kirsteen Buchanan, Associate Professor at Stevens College, (right) and her Mermaid Gown (center) made from mylar and disposable contact lens cases.

Dumpsters.com, a ReVision: The Future sponsor, understands sustainability and creative reuse in fasion. Check out their coverage of how ScrapsKC is changing the future thinking of fashion. (original story here)

Brenda of Scraps KC on 41 action news

School Supply Giveaway Repurposes Donated Supplies for Teachers

By In the News
Brenda of Scraps KC on 41 action news

School is only a few weeks away for many districts, which means teachers are getting their classrooms ready. That’s why ScrapsKC is having its annual school supply giveaway. Watch the video here.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 25, 2019) – School is only a few weeks away for many districts, which means teachers are getting their classrooms ready.

That’s why ScrapsKC is having its annual school supply giveaway.

“Sometimes our teachers need the simplest things, such as a pencil and other times, teachers want to provide extra material. So this allows them to do that without having to pay money for it,” ScrapsKC Executive Director Brenda Mott said.

The organization is a creative reuse center where organizers repurpose donated supplies.

“At the end of every school year, we ask schools to donate supplies that they would otherwise throw away,” Mott said.

This year, they received 8,000 pounds of donated items.

“Sometimes our teachers need the simplest things, such as a pencil and other times, teachers want to provide extra material. So this allows them to do that without having to pay money for it.”

Brenda Mott, Founder, Scraps KC

“Community and homeless volunteers come in and clean and repurpose all the materials, make sure every marker works, make sure every pen works, scrub names off things and we get prepared so that we can give it to teachers,” Mott said.

Art teacher Emily Pfaff said she’s found some pretty unique items for her classroom and students.

“So many things to repurpose, it’s like a treasure hunt,” Pfaff said.

“We’re able to provide that to teachers who want to add a little pizzazz to their classroom or something unique for a classroom lesson,” Mott said.

Pfaff said it’s her seventh year teaching, and this giveaway allows her to be creative.

“They had some different, funky hole punches and stars and so there were so many different materials that the students don’t always use, that was nice to pull out,” Pfaff said.

In the three years the giveaway has existed, ScrapsKC has had roughly 24,000 pounds of supplies donated, which then go to teachers in need for the new school year, rather than the landfill.

“This is just filled with love and we are really excited for the teachers,” Mott said. “It’s our favorite day of the whole year.”

Three-hundred teachers signed up for the two-day giveaway, which will help serve about 7,500 students this upcoming school year.

About Scraps KC

Scraps KC is a non-profit, creative reuse center that strives to reduce industrial waste and home recyclables through the upcycling and creative reimagining of products and materials normally destined for a landfill. Creative reuse is the process of adding creativity to an already manufactured item to produce a new function in dynamic and artistic ways. Discarded items are resold to the public, such as families, teachers, artists, and other groups for further creative reuse. Workshops, birthday parties and other events also are provided by request. Check the website for the latest events at
Scraps KC at ScrapsKC.org or follow Scraps KC on Facebook.

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This KCAI Senior Wants to Save the Planet One Recycled Garment at a Time

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Kansas City Art Institute senior Nina Littrell has created a line of patchwork jackets using discarded fabric.

JULIE DENESHA / KCUR 89.3

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Julie Denesha, May 1, 2019, original story here) – Nina Littrell, a senior in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute, says she wants to start a conversation about the fashion industry and its role in the growing environmental crisis.

In her work, Littrell combines traditional quilting and patchwork design to give discarded textiles a new life in the form of colorful jackets.

The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing each year. Littrell says she sees great potential in the items most people toss out.

She says she hopes her new solo show “Zip It and Reverse It” will make people think twice before they discard their old clothes.

“The garments that you throw in the trash don’t just disappear,” says Littrell. ‘They go somewhere and they get buried, or they end up in our oceans or they end up in other countries and they pollute other countries.”

The problem has ballooned in the past 20 years with the rise of fast-fashion houses creating cheap clothing meant to be worn for a single season.

According to the latest figures published by the Environmental Protection Agency, people in the United States generated 16 million tons of textile waste in 2015. That same year, 10.5 million tons of textiles were dumped in landfills.

Littrell finds much of the cast-off fabric she uses at local recycling centers like ScrapsKC, The Goodwill Outlet and Fabric Recycles. So it seems appropriate that one of her haunts, ScrapsKC, will host her senior show.

Helping people discover new ways to use items that might have found their way to a landfill is a big part of the mission at ScrapsKC. The nonprofit takes in surplus office and art supplies and regularly offers workshops to show people how to use them creatively. In the past two years, the organization says, it has saved 100 tons of material from the trash.

“We’d like to showcase artists who have used repurposed materials in their work, to get the word out about us but to demonstrate to families what they can do with recycled items.”

Brenda Mott, Founder, Scraps KC

Brenda Mott, Executive Director of Scraps KC, says their new location, in a large warehouse on Roanoke Road, offers more space to allow creatives to show off their work.

“We’d like to showcase artists who have used repurposed materials in their work, to get the word out about us but to demonstrate to families what they can do with recycled items,” says Mott.

Littrell says she wants the opening of her show to be a chance for people to see that they can make their clothing last a little longer; to that end, she’ll be on hand with her sewing machine to repair minor rips and tears.

For Littrell, who grew up in Kansas City, this is a chance to share the jackets she makes with the greater community. All of the jackets in the show will be available to try on.

“It’s an easy thing to try them on and play dress up for awhile,” says Littrell. “Which I’m really hoping will happen at my show. I want it to be a giant dress party.”

“Zip It and Reverse It” opens with a reception from 5-9 p.m. on Friday, May 3, and will be on display through May at ScrapsKC, 3269 Roanoke Road, Kansas City, Missouri 64111.

Julie Denesha is a freelance photographer and reporter for KCUR. Follow her on Twitter, @juliedenesha.

About Scraps KC

Scraps KC is a non-profit, creative reuse center that strives to reduce industrial waste and home recyclables through the upcycling and creative reimagining of products and materials normally destined for a landfill. Creative reuse is the process of adding creativity to an already manufactured item to produce a new function in dynamic and artistic ways. Discarded items are resold to the public, such as families, teachers, artists, and other groups for further creative reuse. Workshops, birthday parties and other events also are provided by request. Check the website for the latest events at
Scraps KC at ScrapsKC.org or follow Scraps KC on Facebook.

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ScrapsKC is a non-profit, creative reuse center that strives to reduce industrial waste and home recyclables through the upcycling and creative reimagining of products and materials normally destined for a landfill. Creative reuse is the process of adding creativity to an already manufactured item to produce a new function in dynamic and artistic ways.

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ScrapsKC is a non-profit, creative reuse center that strives to reduce industrial waste and home recyclables through the upcycling and creative reimagining of products and materials normally destined for a landfill. Creative reuse is the process of adding creativity to an already manufactured item to produce a new function in dynamic and artistic ways. Discarded items are resold to the public, such as families, teachers, artists, and other groups for further creative reuse. Workshops, birthday parties and other events also are provided by request. Check the website for the latest events at ScrapsKC at ScrapsKC.org or follow ScrapsKC on Facebook.

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Scraps KC is a non-profit, creative reuse center that strives to reduce industrial waste and home recyclables through the upcycling and creative reimagining of products and materials normally destined for a landfill. Creative reuse is the process of adding creativity to an already manufactured item to produce a new function in dynamic and artistic ways. Discarded items are resold to the public, such as families, teachers, artists, and other groups for further creative reuse. Workshops, birthday parties and other events also are provided by request. Check the website for the latest events at
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