Reuse Centers & Businesses Support Sustainable Living & Learning

Community Resources Support Creative and Practical Reuse

As humans have become more aware of our impact on the planet, we’ve also become more aware of the need to live in a way that is more sustainable than how we’ve lived in the past. Part of our search for sustainability includes being mindful of the things that we consume, their source, and the place(s) where they end up when we’re no longer using them. By recycling and reusing objects and materials, families can decrease their impact on the earth – and an added bonus of reuse is the potential to acquire items very inexpensively (or maybe even for free!).

Locally, there are a handful of community resources that support families in their pursuit of learning about reuse. Read the rest of this entry »

Northampton’s ReUse Rally for the Arts: A Family Friendly Affair!

Northampton’s ReUse Rally for the Arts
October 13, 2012
JFK Middle School in Florence

Bring the whole family to the ReUse Rally for the Arts on Saturday, Oct. 13 from 9am-2pm at the JFK Middle School in Florence. Not only will artists be showing and selling their 75% + reusable materials creations from baby shoes to felted bags, bottle cap earrings to tin can lights, but a dozen of them will demonstrate their work right at their tables. And ten will be giving hands on workshops!

What can you make out of a paper towel roll?  Can old keys who’ve lost their locks be put to good use?  And what about that broken lamp in your attic?  All of these things – and more! – can become beautiful artwork when contributed to that materials stashes of artists participating in Northampton’s ReUse Rally for the Arts!

This free event take place on Saturday, October 13th at JFK Middle School (100 Bridge Road in Florence) from 9am-2pm, and features an art show, demonstrations, and workshops for all ages centered around the theme of re-using, re-cycling, and “upcycling” materials for creative purposes!

Professional reuse artists will show and sell their work. These participating artists create everything from felted bags to creative furniture, sculptures to collages, medallions to lamps, and more!  Families can explore the show featuring a wide variety of works (in so many different media!) browsing through tables of creations for sale, see artists demonstrating their skills and creativity, and take part in art-making activities and skillshare demonstrations and workshops.

There are activities for families of all ages – kids ages 8yo and older can learn to sew boots, teens and tweens can make a simple wooden box, supervised kids with good motor skills can learn to carve rocks, and kids of all ages can paint, sculpt wire, and create costumes to their heart’s content! Artist and art teacher, Robert Hepner, will have his Wandering Carnival  Truck in the parking lot for children ages 4yo and up (with adult supervision) will be able to play with interactive sculptures, trash percussion, and outfit igloos on this wild and zany rig.

The event offers inspiration for eco-friendly creative expression, as well as chances to learn unique and interesting skills.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity to pick up handmade, recycled gifts for the holidays!

For more information, visit If you have materials you would like to donate, or you’re interested in volunteering at the event, contact coordinator Deborah Jane Slavitt at Check out the artist’s wishlist for materials they are seeking for future artworks!

Artist Workshops & Demonstrations:  Read the rest of this entry »

Green Mama: Waste-Free Home

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

At Peace with Living Green

If you are a diehard environmentalist you may be familiar with the name Bea Johnson. And if you weren’t aware of her before there’s a good chance that name is now ringing a bell with families everywhere.

An Associated Press article that appeared in local newspapers across the country earlier this month documented Johnson’s efforts to create a “zero waste” lifestyle within her home and highlighted her blog ( which documents the past year and a half of her journey. And if the new comments on her blog are any indication of her growing popularity, then it won’t be long before Bea Johnson becomes a household name.

Johnson’s waste-free endeavors put this green mama’s conservation efforts to shame.

Johnson shops in bulk with reusable bags, jars, etc. from home to aid her in her commitment to create a wrapper-free home. According to the article she uses sealable glass jars to house her meat from the butcher and fills reusable bags made from bed sheets with rice, pasta, oatmeal and nuts. She also blogs about her attempts to have a waste-free Christmas and this fashion-conscious mom replenishes her wardrobe each year by shopping at thrift stores.

After reading this article I was inspired to peruse my kitchen to see what extra waste we McIlquhams could eliminate in our home and was both pleased and appalled at what I found.

First I never did understand why grocery stores had plastic bags to house one’s fruits and vegetables. For years I found myself filling a bag with apples only to take them out as soon as I got home to wash them and put them in a bowl on the counter and throw out the bag. Without realizing it our family had eliminated the extra plastic when we switched from buying most of our produce at the grocery store to purchasing it from an organic market in town. The vegetables come in returnable plastic containers or cardboard boxes with no other packaging whatsoever. We recently switched to a cardboard box which we recycle because my husband kept hoarding the plastic containers and forgetting to return them, but I think we may rethink this choice for the future.

Thanks to Johnson I also ran into the grocery store the other day to pick up a red onion and passed on the plastic bag. Why didn’t I figure that one out before is beyond me?

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I looked in the pantry.  Read the rest of this entry »

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