Michigan State University's Surplus Store and Recycling Center aims to engage students in crafting and recycling through its bimonthly Spartan Upcycle Friday program.
The store hosted its third upcycling event of the semester on Friday, themed do-it-yourself Valentines and silly stuffed creatures, where students could craft their own stuffed animal using unsold clothes from the Surplus Store. The center provided step-by-step instructions, as well as access to sewing machines and materials. Students could also craft Valentine's Day cards, color or work on other projects in the space.
MSU Surplus Store Education Coordinator Katie Deska said the Spartan Upcycle program started after COVID-19 and has continued as a way to introduce students to the practice of creative reuse.
"It's a great way to get people working with materials that maybe are unfamiliar at first or not really thought of as craft supplies," Deska said.
As the Surplus Store is affiliated with the university, Deska thinks it's important to engage with and educate students on the importance of reuse and recycling.
"The hands-on activity, the crafting side of it, has seemed to be something that is like a good jumping off point for people to kind of learn a little bit more about what we do at the surplus store and at the recycling center," Deska said. "And while they're here, they might stop at the store, you know, browse through."
Urban and regional planning sophomore Sean Monroe said he wanted to attend his first Spartan Upcycle event because he wanted to learn how to sew and thought this environment would be an easy, low-stakes place to do so.
"I think it's a good skill to have in the future, being able to upcycle your own things or fix your own things or whatnot," Monroe said. "And I think it's fun, which is important."
Psychology junior and media outreach assistant Katherine McCabe said that one of the most important things to her is educating others on the "second life" of products.
"People think of college as a time when you have no money, you have no resources and you're eating ramen noodles like every single day," McCabe said. "It's true, you may not be able to afford the best craft resources available, but you can still do really cool stuff with whatever you have on hand, whatever you think of as waste."
McCabe also said these upcycling events are special in that they bring together lots of different people who share a common interest.
"You can find people who want to do the same things as you like to upcycle," McCabe said. "I think this is really cool and that it brings the community together in that way."
The Surplus Store is a fully functional facility, Deska said, but tying what it does back to students is always a priority.
"We're ultimately here because of the students," Deska said. "You know, at the end of the day, everything at MSU comes back to the students."
There will be two more themed upcycling events this semester, bottle terrariums and linocut stamps, as well as the opportunity to utilize free resources during open crafting times. For a full list of events, visit the Spartan Upcycle website.
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