Courtesy of Perennial
Perennial offers classes where participants take a hands-on approach and transform discarded bits into art or other useful items, with the ultimate goal to reduce waste.
By Nicole Plegge
One person sees a holey sweater; Jenny Murphy sees a hanging basket. A ripped textbook? To Jenny, it’s an iPhone dock.
Since 2011, Jenny, executive director of Perennial, has diverted busted furniture and trashed materials from landfills, to living rooms, closets, and offices around St. Louis. And she’s teaching hundreds of other DIYers to do the same.
Throughout the year and around town, Perennial staff and volunteers offer affordable upcycling, rehabbing, and repurposing classes and workshops using materials rescued from St. Louis’s bulk trash system and local thrift stores. Participants can learn how to transform a broken table into a work of art at a DIY demo or hang out at a bar on Remake Thursdays to create stationery from wine corks or totes from old shirts.
Through these hands-on programs, participants become more self-sufficient, set free their inner artists, and shrink the amount of waste that could end up in a landfill.
According to Jenny, the country’s economic downturn as well as a surge in DIY craft sites like Pinterest have fueled people’s passion for upcycling and rehabbing.
“DIY is a great way to save money, especially as people are looking for ways to be more resourceful,” she says. “You can introduce really cool, beautiful crafts into your home on no budget, just by finding materials in the trash.”
For the not-so-crafty, Perennial offers an array of upcycled furniture, home décor, and art for purchase. Proceeds from the store, along with class fees, help support Perennial’s outreach programs for underserved communities. For instance, the nonprofit offers DIY workshops to women in transition at local shelters to help them build their skills and self-esteem, expanding its mission of creativity and sustainability.