By Danielle Boyd
Empty pickle jars filled with broken necklaces, computer parts and mismatched buttons lie on covered workshop tables Belts, scarfs and old ties hang from teh ceiling.
The old auto body shop once covered in grease and filled with cars has been cleaned up and given new life as the Repurpose Project, a used objects and materials store, art studio and gallery.
The Repurpose Project, founded by Mike Myers and Sarah Goff, is a non-profit organization that collects objects that would typically be thrown away and re-sells and re-uses them as art supplies.
Myers and Goff encourage people to donate or to find other uses for old supplies before throwing anything away. One man’s trash easily becomes another man’s art supplies.
“We’re in a disposing society, when something breaks or the trend changes, we throw it away,” Myers said.
The Repurpose Project gives businesses and collectors a place to drop off their unwanted materials instead of adding them to landfills.
Whenever the Repurpose Project finds they have an overabundance of supplies, the project will sell materials back to the community in bulk. The art supply shop will also host workshop events for families and friends willing to come out and test their creativity and learn about the diverse forms of arts and crafts.
Myers joked he can teach you how to make an old tea pot into a new lamp.
Goff said at this point landfills are filling up and oceans are filled with trash; our culture of consumption and immediate disposal is catching up with us.
“By buying used people are not creating any waste. Used items are taking the place of a new product,” Goff said.
Alachua County collects more than 100 tons of litter annually, said Ron Kaylor, road superintendent of public works department.
Paper, plastic bottles, wood and junk are the most common form of trash that litters the streets before being collected by Waste Management for disposal and then taken to local landfills, said Kaylor.
However, Myers says he’s seen a change in the last 10 years. Many people don’t want to throw things away and are thinking of ways to reduce their use.
The Repurpose Project not only provides provides the community with a space to create art and inspire creativity by reducing our waste and re-purposing disposed objects, but it’s a place of hope, too. Myers and Goff opened their business with the intentions and desire to create a change in the community.
It was their shared love of re-using and re-purposing used materials that brought Myers and Goff together. They met while looking for supplies and instantly hit it off. Combining Goff’s keen sense in art and Myers’ 40 plus years in recycling the two were the perfect match to found the Repurpose Project. After months of preparation and hard work Goff and Myers collected their resources and were open for business.
Although the Repurpose Project is still getting established, many curious passersby, families and artists have stopped by looking to score big on art knowledge and inspiration. The art store and gallery can see anywhere from a dozen people to a couple hundred depending on the day’s events, said Myers. People power, volunteers and relationships throughout the community help make up the staff that keeps this thrifty non-profit going.
Myers and Goff have taken an empty auto garage and created an environment for locals to go dumpster diving without the dumpster to find their own creative inspiration. Myers hopes the used objects and materials shop will inspire more people to go green and to use items in new and unexpected ways.
“Think outside the box, and the box will become a new box, and that box will become a new box,” Myers said.