Many years ago my children (ages 2-13) and I used to clean construction sites.  One day we were dumping a load of sheetrock scraps at the county dump and we pulled in right behind a truck from a huge company that made sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks.  The truck dumped a huge pile of cloth, zippers, thread, batting and backpack straps on a fresh spot of land that hadn't been bulldozed yet.  We gathered as much as we could haul in our truck and trailer and took it home. 

I taught my three oldest boys to sew from what to us was a gold mine of treasures.  They made knife sheaths, gun covers, backpacks, quilts, tents, bags, rugs, curtains and more.  The abundant supply of cloth took all the stress out of messing up a project for a beginning learner. 

We hoped that the truck dumped at the same time every week or two and so we hauled our next load of construction site garbage when we assumed the truck from the company would be there.  Sure enough, “jackpot!”  My boys were so excited.  We loaded our truck and trailer again and delivered fabric, thread and zippers to dozens of homeschool families in the area.  The excitement that all the kids showed was contagious.  All kinds of kids learned to sew that year, boys and girls.  Some items got donated to homeless shelters to help those suffering from the cold.  Many kids made quilts for their own beds or presents for others.

It has been 23 years since our sewing jackpot.  Unfortunately all the old dumps got taken over by big corporations who surrounded them with chain link and razor wire fences, that looked like prisons with huge signs that threatened to throw us in jail and charge us outrageous fines for taking any piece of trash from the dump.  The areas of the landfills where government or big corporations dumped became completely inaccessible to the public.  Perhaps they figure that we won’t protest what we don’t know about.

I have believed for a long time that all Americans should be allowed to take tours of landfills and waste treatment facilities in order to conceptualize how much waste and destruction is being created on earth so we will do whatever we can to stop it.   This planet is our home!

If every big company donated their usable "trash" to educational and humanitarian projects we could create a highly motivated and trained artisan craftsman culture of people who love up-cycling and wise use of earth’s resources.  The power is in the people who actually do the WORK.  Everything matters! 

We encourage you to send us your upcycling ideas and pics that we can share on our website.  Email us at clearwatercultures@gmail.com  Thank you!