Some people see abandonment and despair when looking at crumbling homes in Detroit. Others see potential and the opportunity to create something beautiful. Many artists in Detroit are creative by necessity, fueling their art with whatever they can find. That even means using seemingly useless resources, such as Detroit’s trash.

Many of the companies who produce these products are using them to give back to the community. They will donate profits to education programs, job training, or city cleanups.

Here are 11 Christmas gifts for people who love the city, love the environment, or love a little bit of homemade crafting. Many of these items are available and are handmade by small companies. It’s too late to purchase any of these for the Christmas season, but they are great to keep in mind for future holidays!

 

Peels of graffiti paint are turned into wearable art

Robert Nell Cufflinks made from Detroit graffiti

Robert Nell creates cuff links, earrings, pendants, and rings. The designs are made from paint chips that come from graffiti and murals. The Alley Project donates some of the chips, and then Robert Nell donates some proceeds back to them. This company partners with local shelter COTS to employ end empower Detroit women. They pay well and provide life skills classes.

Rebel Nell jewelry and cufflinks, $65 to $165

Old tires become sturdy sandals

Detroit Tread Sandals made from old tiires

In the last 7 years, Cass Community Social Services has collected 40,000 tires to re-purpose into sandals and mats. Those tires would otherwise be sitting illegally in vacant lots. Buying these shoes certainly won’t solve the problem of illegal dumping, but it makes an impact on the local level. CCCS currently employs 85 homeless or recently homeless people as part of their Green Industries initiative.

Cass Community Social Services Detroit Tread sandals, $25

Reclaimed wood becomes guitars

Wallace Detroit Guitars

Wallace Detroit Guitars creates wood guitars from the deconstruction debris from local homes. Architectural Salvage Warehouse provides the materials that make up the body. Some of the wood is a century old, and it provides a unique sound to the instruments. They are currently taking pre-orders for February 2015.

Wallace Detroit Guitars, $1,995 and up

Reused materials become holders for six-packs

Woodward Throwbacks Beer Holders - Made in Detroit

These holders are crafted from wood that has been discarded at illegal dumping sites. It helps to clean up Detroit one piece of wooden furniture at a time. Kyle Dubay and Bo Shephers (Woodward Throwbacks founders) also make other creative novelty products with what they find.

Woodward Throwbacks beer holders, $45 to $60.

Old window glass becomes ornate terrariums

Lead Head Glass Terrariums - Made in Detroit

Lead Head Glass terrariums are made from glass that has been collected from deconstructed Detroit homes. The items they find could not otherwise be recycled, so they are being given a second chance at life. They are inspired by Wardian cases, which transported plants overseas in the 19th century. These designs were finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made contest.

Lead Head Glass terrariums, $80 to $190; air plant holders, $42

Materials from old homes becomes furniture

Mutual Adoration Union Table - Made in Detroit

Mutual Adoration use reclaimed wood found in Detroit and in surrounding areas to make uniquely crafted and stained furniture. Artist couple Clare Fox and Wayne Maki use their relationship as inspiration for the pieces they create. Such as the table above, which is two separate tables that come together seamlessly as one.

Mutual Adoration Union Table, $380 to $460.

Salvaged wood becomes picture frames

Mutual Adoration Frames - Made in Detroit

The frames by Mutual Adoration have the same sense and style as their furniture pieces. These come without the large bulk commitment and carry a lower price tag. Each one comes with an explanation of where that individual piece came from. “Reclaimed cedar fencing from a home in Detroit,” for example.

Mutual Adoration frames, $30 to $78.

Old liquor bottles become candles and vases

DetroitWick Candles - Made in Detroit

Doug Schwartz sold soy candles made from liquor bottles he collected at bars. Soon, people started donating empty bottles to him from around the country. DetroitWick, his company, donates part of his profits to Green Living Science. This nonprofit partners with local schools to teach kids about the environment.

DetroitWick candles, $45 to $200.

Recyclable objects and Reusable materials become great gifts

Upcycled Sunglasses - Made in Detroit

Upcycled Candle Holders - Made in Detroit

Upcycled Wood Cutting Block - Made in Detroit

 

Which ones are your favorites? Would you buy any of these?

Merry Christmas to you from Budget Dumpster!