Scraplanta: Create art, not waste
By Hannah E. Jones
At Scraplanta, one person’s trash is another’s art project. Scraplanta Creative Reuse is a local nonprofit that encourages sustainability, creative education and artistic expression through the collection and reuse of materials for arts and crafts.
The organization was established in 2011 as the WonderRoot Creative Reuse, and, as it gained popularity, the Board of Directors decided it needed an executive director and a permanent physical location. In 2021, Jonelle Dawkins was hired for the position and in Oct. 2022, the team opened the doors to its new location at the Briarcliff Village on Henderson Mill Road.
The Scraplanta team’s efforts are multifaceted — with a retail store, creative workshops, partnerships with local schools and a gallery space. With this new leadership and home base, the nonprofit and its efforts have flourished.
Within half a year, the team collected over 11 tons of materials that would’ve otherwise been discarded into local landfills. These donations came from 70 zip codes around the state.
“[The opening] was a magical feeling. At the beginning of the day, I walked in the store and thought, ‘I hope someone comes in and shops today,’ and a lot of people came to shop with us and they keep coming,” Dawkins said. “We have people come every week, people who travel from McDonough and the North Georgia mountains. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that Scraplanta has all this energy in this little space that’s hidden in a shopping plaza in Tucker.”
Folks can visit Scraplanta’s retail store to donate and purchase items, which are offered at extremely discounted prices. The creative reuse center accepts a plethora of materials, ranging from classic craft supplies like crayons, construction paper and clay and more unique items like clocks, chemistry glassware, license plates and vinyl records.
Yarn is a big hit, according to Dawkins, with “[knitters] coming in droves.” This section is especially popular because customers can pay a flat fee to fill a bag with yarn. Dawkins added that these low-cost offerings are essential for reducing waste, engaging the local economy and making the art world more accessible.
“With sustainability, there’s a triple bottom line,” she said. “People most often think of the environment but they also have to realize that people and economics are just as important.”
In addition to its retail store, the nonprofit has connected dozens of Metro Atlanta teachers with creative materials. For example, the team is supplying a local elementary school with fabrics and other items needed for their production of The Lion King. An Atlanta preschool has also turned to Scraplanta to secure supplies to improve students’ fine motor skills.
Scraplanta’s new location also offers gallery space for underserved local artists, which was inspired by The Bakery.
“We want people to know that this is a community space,” Dawkins said. “We want people who aren’t traditionally represented in art to have a place to showcase their artwork … [and] to show the community what people make with creative reuse art.”
This year, Dawkins’ priority is finding ways to further activate their space and engage the community through programs and partnerships. The team will continue to host events where folks can “learn a skill and teach a skill.”
Overall, Dawkins encourages people to flex their artistic muscle by creating something unexpected using found materials.
“[My] tip for getting started is to just do it. Instead of thinking outside the box, don’t think of it as a box,” Dawkins said. “Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the textbook definition of something, but why do markers just have to be used for drawing? Why can’t we make sculptures from markers? Challenge yourself to create art and not in the traditional way.”
Click here to learn more about Scraplanta and its creative reuse efforts.
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