Cary Creative Center turns trash into treasure

A new nonprofit in Cary is taking a creative approach to solving environmental problems, and the result is a work of art.

By reducing, reusing and recreating discarded materials, Cary Creative Center Inc. is helping change public attitudes by showing that many superfluous items have a life beyond their original purpose.

Cary Creative Center events, like this Father’s Day card-making program at Southeast Regional Library, are crucial to getting the center’s message out.

“The goal should be how many more times discarded materials can be used before they reach the recycling stream,” said Betsy Dassau, founder and president. “We want to keep it in use longer, to make art, not trash.”

To reach that goal, Cary Creative Center collects and redirects reusable materials, and then creates arts and crafts classes around materials that are donated. The program is supported by its retail store, located at 155 Wilkinson Ave., which sells donated arts and crafts materials at really low prices.

The 1,800-square-foot building also houses a workshop room for art and crafting classes, and for people who just want a place to create personal projects.

On any given day, the center receives a treasure trove of donations that could have ended up in the landfill. Thanks to its numerous outreach programs and events, Cary Creative Center is creating awareness among people of all ages about the importance of creative reuse.

“We have diverted 22 tons of materials from going to the landfill,” said Dassau, who opened Cary Creative Center on March 31. “Our goal for this year is 50 tons.”

Functional art: Dassau reclines on a chaise lounge created out of cardboard construction cores by local artist Paul Mikos.

Sifting through boxes of donations, the volunteers and staff who help organize and label items are often surprised by what they will find. There are coconut shells, rubber duckies, corks, magazines, floppy discs, metal caps and even a wig.

“A wig! I know what we can do with that,” said Lynne Fischer, the programs and events coordinator. “You never know what you’re going to get. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.”

During one of Fischer’s recent children’s programs at Southeast Regional Library in Garner, nearly 80 kids showed up to create Father’s Day cards out of donated sticky boards, colored labels, ribbons, magazines and bottle tops.

The event was organized to create an environment of awareness, Fischer said. Poster boards at the event highlighted some sobering facts: Styrofoam stays in a landfill for 500 years; it costs $4,000 to recycle a ton of plastic bags; every bit of plastic ever made still exists.

Given the resources to create, the children’s imaginations went wild.
“You light a fire, and you don’t know where it is going to go,” Fischer said.

Cary 3-year-old Nolan Eacret explores art-making possibilities with the center’s donated materials.

Dassau echoes that sentiment, noting that artists look at things differently. By embracing a reduce, reuse and recreate philosophy, people are open to pushing their imaginations.

“If you give people materials, stand back and watch what happens. It’s whatever the imagination will hold,” she said. “It’s an educational process to become aware of the environment. You can do little things that will make a large impact.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *