ZeroLandfill Transforms Trash Into Treasure

They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and perhaps there’s no better example of this than ZeroLandfill Indy. By transforming discarded materials into art, the organization gives designers and architects an alternative to disposing unused samples.

Each ZeroLandfill chapter collects swatches, carpet squares, tiles, and other materials. Instead of tossing them in the dumpster, chapter organizers host a sorting event. Volunteers look for pieces that can be reused, then invite local artists and educators to pick up supplies for arts and crafts projects.

“There are so many opportunities for projects that creative teachers could come up with,” explains Sarah Savage, head coordinator of ZeroLandfill Indy.

Savage says it took time to get the Indianapolis chapter rolling. “I’d been trying to bring this Ohio-based program to Indy since 2013. In early 2014, magic happened!”

That magic was funded by Lumbermen’s Inc., a Michigan-based construction supplier. With their help, ZeroLandfill Indy launched its first weeklong sorting event in November 2014. Almost a year later, the program is still going strong.

“We’re in the midst of our second event,” Savage says, smiling. She’s an enthusiastic recruiter. “Anyone can become involved, and I suggest following our Facebook page religiously.”

The program does more than provide materials to the community. Volunteers also give tutorials for crafts like turning a paint chip into a Halloween decoration or an old tile into jewelry.

“Everyone loves the tiles,” Savage says. “You can make mosaic planters with a small boxful of glass tile, but there are a lot of random things, too, like foam crates. And this year, we might have doll wigs.”

Sarah says the program shows the design and architecture industry is recognizing the flaws of sampling practices. Samples allow designers and architects to make informed decisions about their materials, but the practice also produces excess supplies. By encouraging reusing and recycling, ZeroLandfill cuts costs for teachers and artists and decreases waste.

To donate your firm’s old samples or participate in a ZeroLandfill event, check out the organization’s  Facebook page. You never know what treasure could be waiting in your trash.

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