UC Makerspace threads eco-friendly project
Students partner with non-profit, turning waste into wonder
With the negative impact of human activities on the environment, more people are looking for ways to reduce waste and make more sustainable choices.
Among the most effective ways to do this is upcycling — transforming materials that otherwise would be destined for the landfill into something useful.
The Remake Project (RP), a non-profit startup organization, has adopted an innovative and creative approach to convert discarded items into practical objects that not only serve the community but also help to decrease landfill waste. This spring, RP received a helping hand from the University of Cincinnati Makerspace, which provided the organization with access to its sewing machines for creating tote bags from surplus materials.
New life for discarded trash
RP provides makers of all types with curated, sustainable and accessible materials obtained by redistributing industry waste. The organization relies on UC student workers like Iset Celik and Caroline Bussick, both graduating this May with degrees in industrial design from the UC College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP).
“My role involves finding ways to turn our inventory of reclaimed materials into functional items that can serve our community,” Bussick said.
Through her connections with the New Life Furniture Bank (NLFB), which provides furniture and personal care items to individuals and families starting anew after challenging circumstances, Bussick identified a need: tote bags for distributing toiletries and household items. She then created a sewing pattern that could be used with an ample supply of polyester advertisement banners donated to RP.
Celik shared the tote bag design with Lucy Weaver, UC Makerspace unit coordinator. Adept at identifying underserved markets within the circular economy, Celik, who hails from Turkey, has a cultural inclination toward resource conservation and upcycling.
"Seeing the abundance of materials here in America motivated me to develop a system to inspire and motivate others to upcycle while facilitating the process," Celik said.
By holding sewing workshops to teach volunteers how to make tote bags, the Makerspace at UC is enabling us to educate volunteer student makers to consider using innovative upcycled materials as an eco-friendly way to support environmental protection and reduce landfill waste while also giving back to a community in need.
Cyrina Thomas Founder, The Remake Project
After testing the tote bag design, Weaver and her colleagues determined that it was compatible with the Makerspace’s desktop sewing certification class.
“We were impressed with the sewing pattern's quality and thoughtfulness,” she said.
The Makerspace then offered sewing workshops where student volunteers were supervised while crafting the totes.
Cyrina Thomas, the founder of RP, is grateful for the support of UC Makerspace.
"By holding sewing workshops to teach volunteers how to make tote bags, the Makerspace is enabling us to educate volunteer student makers to consider using innovative upcycled materials as an eco-friendly way to support environmental protection and reduce landfill waste while also giving back to a community in need," she said.
Bussick and Celik also are developing a website for RP that will feature an e-commerce page where users can browse the inventory of free, reclaimed materials. Organizations like the Makerspace can request specific materials for upcoming events or projects.
Featured image at top: UC student volunteers Caroline Bussick, left, and Hannah Weisburn hold tote bags. Photo/Caroline Bussick
Learn more about the Makerspace
The UC Makerspace is located inside the 1819 Innovation Hub, providing organizations like The Remake Project with opportunities to scale smaller projects like the totes to involve more volunteers.