Insects and the City

Scrap Happy
by Amanda Giddon -- April 11th, 2013

My undergraduate academic experiences have thrown me their fair share of curveballs thus far – simulating old age by wrapping our knees in newspaper in my gerontology course, dredging for sea life at the marine lab for an ocean science class, and foraging through hundreds of rare comics for visual studies – my undertakings have been very hands-on. (Quite literally – wrist deep in sludge searching for crustaceans.)

This month my movies course gave me an assignment that struck fear in my heart: creating an adventure film. I was to act, gather props, and arrange for costumes. My acting was doomed to begin with – I am far more articulate behind the blog than behind the Cannon. (Which at times, felt like the actual weapon.) However, I dedicated my real effort to assembling props to simulate a plane crash. I felt as if all hope was lost, piteously duct taping cardboard, until my knight in shining recyclables – The Scrap Exchange, rescued me.

The Scrap Exchange is a non-profit reuse center located on Franklin Street in Durham, with a mission to “promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.” The trifecta! The Scrap Exchange is a hoarder’s heaven – a celestial space of materials collected from individuals, businesses, industry and municipal sources.  The Scrap Exchange presents its customers with hard to find materials at exceptionally low prices, and prevents hundreds of usable materials from entering the waste stream. Donors are also eligible for a tax deduction for the value of their contribution. Though the Scrap Exchange is a true blessing to the Durham community, (and ultimately to my GPA this semester,) if your living room at all resembles the space you need serious help, and quickly.

I left the Scrap Exchange with an old radio, several metal beams, a sheet of scrap metal, a harness, and some plastic tubing, all for $11. My film crew was awestruck by the legitimacy of my airplane debris – “Where did you find this stuff?!” Though I wanted to keep my experience with the Scrap Exchange a secret, (a magician never reveals her tricks!), it was too good not to share.

Another can’t miss feature of the Scrap Exchange is the open studio. Customers can pay $5 for an hour and half of crafting. Participants can make anything they want from the available materials, and take home their own scrap-happy creation. For those of you who require a little more direction, the Scrap Exchange also offers classes taught by local artists. Classes range from wind chimes to weaving, DIY compost to making your own cleaning products.

And finally, for those who would rather view art than do art, the Scrap Exchange has an in-house art gallery that showcases local artists who use recyclables in their work.  Stop by during store hours, or during gallery openings for an extra special treat. (Literally! There are complimentary beverages and snacks.)

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure rings true at the scrap exchange. For me, one man’s trash is another girl’s airplane debris. What can trash do for you?  The scraportunities are endless.

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1 Comment

  1. Ruth Warren
    Apr 12, 2013

    Thank you so much Amanda for this wonderful review of your trip to The Scrap Exchange! Come back soon!!!

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