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From trash to treasure

Kid’s get hands-on lesson in recycling through reCREATE’s effort to reuse unwanted materials
By: Lauren Weber The Press-Tribune
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Egg crates, telephone wire, fabric samples and shoe inserts are all items some might think belong in the garbage, but Donna Sangwin of Roseville has a better idea. Her nonprofit company, reCREATE, is devoted to collecting trash and turning it into art supplies. She currently has about 20 local businesses that donate art-worthy material to her company. Williams + Paddon supplies design samples, SureWest Communications provides telephone wire, FedEx Kinko’s gives pieces of unusable banner, Palmer Signs donates mistake signs and Sangwin said she’s always scouting out other businesses. “You name it, I’m getting it,” she said. “It’s not what you’d find at Michael’s though.” Sangwin has learned the art of seeing trash in another light and using it for kids’ craft projects. It’s all in line with being more environmentally conscious and friendly, something that Sangwin learned at a young age from her parents and hopes to instill in kids today. Sangwin has big plans for her Roseville company. She’s searching for a 3,000-square-foot storefront location in Downtown Roseville that will give her a place to store the materials, hold workshops, schedule studio time and sell green products such as plates and gift bags. She also envisions reCREATE hosting birthday parties with green goodie bags and art projects using reusable materials. During the summer, Sangwin connected with the Roseville Utility Exploration Center for their weeklong recycled art camps and taught kids the art of reuse. “It’s a great partnership,” said Bob Garrison, director of the Utility Exploration Center. “We both support each others missions.” Sangwin’s business, reCREATE, will continue to team up with the UEC in the upcoming seasons for a sustainable jewelry making class, garden treasures workshop teaching students how to make a birdhouse from reused material and drop-in workshops for kids to make holiday gifts with reusable items. As for the upcoming school year, Sangwin said she’s working on collaborating with local school classes to show the importance of helping the environment using an old car. Once she picks out a vehicle, she plans to fill it with sorted and organized materials, drive to the schools and let kids grab a bag full of supplies. Her stop will connect with the schools’ environment lesson plans and allow kids to create sculptures, animals and abstract designs from so-called junk. Sangwin said she lets the kids design whatever they want, asking them, “What can you make out of this?” Sangwin not only wants to encourage the green movement in the classroom, she utilizes it all in her daily life. She made the switch to energy efficient light bulbs, is part of Roseville Electric’s Green Roseville, her own kids are constantly crafting things from her collected materials and she’s combined forces with friends to reuse kids’ clothing. “We’re just trying to think of the little things. If everybody makes little changes, I think it’s going to be great,” she said. “Being a mom, it’s kind of my responsibility to do what I can for them.” She even keeps a blog (http://a-bit-greener.blogspot.-com) that she updates with ideas and ways people can reduce their use on un-recyclable and un-reusable items. “One mom’s journey to live a little bit greener. For myself, my kids and this place we call home,” she titles her blog. In her blog, she answers why she started reCREATE: “I want my kids to live in a world that isn’t choking on its actions ... and I believe there has to be a way that a typical mom like me can make a difference – I have to – for my kids.” For more information, go to www.recreate.org.