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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Scrap it up: Cincinnati’s New Creative Re-use Center is a Win-Win

Photos and Article by Connie Springer

Near the intersection of Ridge and Montgomery Roads in Pleasant Ridge and a quick drive from Hyde Park sits a newly-opened 850-square-foot creative re-use center brimming with supplies for artists, teachers, students, kids, parents, and everyone else at bargain-basement prices.  
Scrap It Up emphasizes upcycling, a form of recycling in which waste materials and unwanted products are transformed into creative new uses.

Accepting donations at Scrap it Up
The non-profit’s aim is to encourage environmentally sustainable behavior and to inspire creative re-use by providing the community with both low-priced materials and educational programs for adults and children. Although based in Pleasant Ridge, the store’s mission is to reach out to visitors throughout the city.

Beth Muething was a community planning graduate who wanted to do something hands-on to help the environment. With prior experience starting a recycling program at her children’s school, Nativity, she got the idea for the project when her daughter told her about a creative reuse store in Portland, Oregon. Beth reached out to local community organizations and volunteer contacts in the Pleasant Ridge community for their input and support in the initial process of starting.
She also quickly found five other like-minded women to form the store’s “team of six” that together has participated in art and recycling events, scoured the area for a location, and prepared the shop for opening. The team includes Mary Lennard, a former Montessori teacher; Kathy Michel, a retired RN with an environment passion; Mindy Burger, a retired art teacher and artist; Amy Dennison, involved with the CCM Preparatory Department; and Lynn Conaway, an artist. 
After close to three years of research, preparation, and collaboration, Scrap It Up opened in July of 2017.
Volunteers have been a large part of the success of the program, offering invaluable support in setting up the shop, helping sort and price materials, answering questions, and assisting customers with finding materials in the well-organized store.

Volunteers Beth and Mary Lennard, part of the store’s “team of six” who work on art and recycling events.
The fiscal sponsor of Scrap It Up is Kennedy Heights Arts Center and, in a reciprocal relationship, the shop organizes an annual summer art camp at KHAC producing art projects reusing items from the store.
Reactions to the store from customers have been nothing short of joyful. “This is a really cool place,” exclaims first-time visitor Rebecca S. Robinson, a retired schoolteacher from Cincinnati Public Schools. “People are really knowledgeable here and can help find whatever materials are needed for activities.” Her niece, Dawnetta Hayes, a teacher at SCPA, calls the shop “the ideal place to come for parents and teachers burdened by the cost of supplies for projects.” 
Saturday, when shop hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., material donations are accepted at the store, with people bringing in boxes and boxes of supplies. “It’s a flow of materials,” Beth explains. “The more we sell, the more we can take in.”  Monetary donations are also always welcome.

Shoppers Dawn Hayes and Rebecca Robinson
The material donations are weighed when they come into the shop in order to track how much is diverted from the landfill.
Scrap It Up plans to reach out to area businesses and manufacturers to see whether there are items in the production process which typically get discarded that could potentially have artistic value.
Around the store one can find sample projects demonstrating what can be done with scrap materials using a little imagination. An album will be compiled with photos of finished products made from the shop’s resources. The store hopes to eventually have a small area where reuse artists can sell creations they’ve made from materials in the shop.

Lotsa yarn!!! 
The Scrap It Up team will be holding workshops teaching participants interested in skills such as scrapbooking, quilting, knitting, and making mosaics about how specific scrap materials can be transformed into useful items. Classes will be planned on how to make usable art with such media as clay, batik, notecard-making, and stamping.
At holiday times, customers will find an abundance of resources at the store for clever decorating ideas and creative project-making.

Volunteer and project maker Cindy Barr
Scrap It Up would love to have more volunteers for the many tasks involved in making the store run smoothly, such as sorting and pricing, assisting shoppers, and helping with publicity. Sign up on the website for volunteering, and while you’re in the shop, bring home a bag or two of creative re-use materials to help lower the amount of waste going to our landfills.

Scrap it Up is located at 5935 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, 45213.  Hours Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.;Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.  Contacts: 513-717-0852,,,

Parking is available in the Pleasant Ridge Community Center lot near the store.

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