Redefining Value

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another. I have come to believe that this law does not just apply to the conservation of energy, but also to the physical goods we utilize on a daily basis.

When we throw away a product, it is usually because it no longer serves its intended purpose. Who defines the ‘intended purpose’ of any item? Advertising? Societal conventions? For example, let’s say you were given a watering can and realized that there was an irreparable hole at the bottom. The most likely end scenario would involve the watering can being thrown into the trashcan, and then by default travelling to the landfill. Reapplying Einstein’s law in this scenario – energy has officially been “destroyed”.

We’ve become so complacent and used to being fed these different consumeristic viewpoints that we forget to think creatively about products. That damaged watering can could have easily been re-purposed into a pretty gardening ornament. By filling it with soil and planting some beautiful flowers you have a unique pot – with drainage already included. Paraphrasing Einstein, we have successfully managed to convert the product from one form to another. Voila.

During my time here I’ve begun to rethink the relationship between creativity and age. Scientific studies state that aging results in reduced creativity. I’ve seen this situation first hand. The artist we were hosting for our Third Friday Durham gallery show, Katherine Soucie makes high end clothing from “waste” hosiery. Some of the waste hosiery did not hold the dye as well as it was intended and so we were given those pieces of scrap fabric to use for our summer camp. If I was given those scraps of fabric, I would have had no idea what to do with them. The kids at summer camp had NO such problem. In front of me those scraps of waste fabric were being converted into these amazing things. One child was making doll clothes, another had started to mass produce these beautiful headbands, another was making these stylish gloves, and another was using the fabric as a backdrop to an embroidery. Sitting in that environment, my perspective of waste had taken a toss.

After spending the last 6 weeks at The Scrap Exchange I can say that almost nothing I used to perceive as ‘waste’ actually is waste. Old maps that no one uses anymore can be used as flooring. Scrap fabric can be used to make doll clothes. Old files can be used to make makeshift walls. The numerous possibilities of ways we can repurpose material already in existence is extraordinary. All that it needs is a little creative inspiration. That little spark of an idea can go a long long way.

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