Imagination Turns Trash into Possibilities–Feb. 2, 2018


Larry explains a project using repurposed silverware, keys and pallet wood.

Search the Internet for old and new, and you’ll find sayings like “Old ways won’t open new doors.”

Friends of Cozumel volunteers took that to heart by providing three repurposing workshops where seniors and families with children used old things to create something new.

Larry, one of FOC’s organizers, explained the idea of using reclaimed items for different purposes to the participants and showed project prototypes made by volunteers.

“Use tuna cans, plastic bottles, wood pallets, old t-shirts or things you might find in the trash to make something different and useful for your home,” he said. “Use your imagination.”

Lorie and Sue help a workshop participant make a survival candle.

Participants were enthusiastic about using the tools and materials provided by FOC. They worked on projects such as a towel rack or toilet paper holder from wood pallets; a survival candle from reclaimed wax, cardboard and tin cans; and no-sew market bag from old t-shirts.

Prior to the workshops, FOC volunteers gathered the necessary materials by visiting the recycling center, asking local residents for cast off items, and perusing trash heaps.

An example of turning trash into something useful came from a Cozumel property manager who donated a bag of more than 100 keys taken out of commission when locks were changed. At the repurposing workshops, the keys were bent into hooks for the towel racks.

“Use the keys for whatever, but I don’t want any of them back,” property manager Kelly said. “Thanks for taking them off my hands.”

First-time FOC volunteer Sue said the workshop was an education for her as well as the participants.

Workshop participants learned by doing.

“I learned that we have too many things that we don’t really need,” she said. “People here use and reuse everything. They find a way. And they were wonderful to work with—so kind and family-oriented.”

Participants were proud of their finished projects, but they left with something even more valuable: the knowledge that they could put their imagination to work to create something new from something old.

“Thank you for this beautiful experience,” said Teresa, a participant at the DIF Senior Center. “We look with our eyes and we see possibilities. We can make things for ourselves.”

~ Phyllis from Nebraska

Voila–an old t-shirt is now a new bag.

Market bags were made from old t-shirts.

Knots were tied to close the bottoms of the no-sew bags.

Proud builder of a new key and towel rack.

Even the smallest scraps of wood were turned into something meaningful.

A happy crowd at Vida Abundante Church show their finished repurposing projects.

Marta proudly shows her new toilet paper holder to Pastora Mariela.

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