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 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.
Old tires become sturdy sandals
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.
Reclaimed wood becomes 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.
Reused materials become holders for six-packs
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.
Old window glass becomes ornate terrariums
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.
Materials from old homes becomes furniture
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.
Salvaged wood becomes picture frames
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.
Old liquor bottles become candles and vases
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.
Recyclable objects and Reusable materials become great gifts
Which ones are your favorites? Would you buy any of these?
Merry Christmas to you from Budget Dumpster!