The ReUse Center: It All Comes Back Around

[imgbelt img=FiestaParadeFloat320.jpg]What if a rural community decided it was too beautiful to trash and too thrifty to waste anything? It would be working like Chamisal, New Mexico.


UpCycled Fashion. 

From humble beginnings, and through the dedication of several community members, a business was developed from “free store” roots. UpCycled Fashion is a zero-waste business that creates jobs in our community. 

With several small grants from foundations and public economic development agencies, UpCycled has already grown to provide incomes that are improving the lives of several families. Clothing is sold both at stores and online. The clothing line is also shown at various fashion shows each year, including the prestigious annual Taos Glam Trash fashion show. UpCycled’s slogans are compelling and true: “Cutting Edge Clothing With a Conscience: Clever Clothes for Smart Dressers.”

It Takes a Visionary – Creating the Next Generation of Reusers

“There is so much ‘stuff’ in the world and our community; sooner or later it all has to go somewhere,” says Jean Nichols of Llano, NM, leader of the community use-reuse program. “Creating upcycled and recycled art is a good way to move quality products from the waste stream and to create something beautiful, humorous, thought provoking – or all of the above.”

[imgcontainer left] [img:FiestaParadeFloat320.jpg] [source]Jean Nichols

Full bore ReUse! The Peñasco Area Community Association’s 2010 Float 2010, San Antonio Fiesta Parade, Peñasco, NM, featuring Made in the Shade headgear and a volleyball net is made out of 6-pack beverage rings.
Nichols directs several arts and services projects in our community. She is the visionary who wrote and managed the grant for the ReUse Center and has forged partnerships with the New Mexico Women’s Foundation and other funders to build the UpCycled Fashion business. The New Mexico Arts Division, a state agency, describes Nichols’s work on its website. Highlighting the mission of Nichols’ Art for the Heart the state site explains:

Art for the Heart’s mission is to foster health through creativity. The gallery/studio offers art and creativity classes, workshops, and community collaborations; gallery and website sales of local artists’ work; a women’s group; summer youth projects; and has initiated a cottage industry turning discarded clothing into new fashions.
Jean has seen that the children in our community have always had the chance to participate in reuse and recycling from an early age. Through partnership projects with the Peñasco Independent School District, the nearby Dixon Elementary School, the Girl Scouts, and the Peñasco Area Community Association, we are assuring that younger generations understand and commit to reuse and recycling. 
Our home is beautiful and it takes all of us to keep it that way. 

Carol Miller is a community organizer from Ojo Sarco, New Mexico (pop. 400) and an advocate for Geographic Democracy: the belief that the United States must guarantee equal rights and opportunities to participate in the national life, no matter where someone lives.