Reduce, reuse, recycle with Arts and Scraps

Dr. Angela Seabright
Adriane Davis

| 3 min read

Arts and Scraps
For a quarter of a century, a local nonprofit organization has put a creative twist on the adage, “Reduce, reuse, recycle”.
Arts and Scraps is celebrating its 25th year of reducing waste and creating beautiful art in the community. Housed on the east side of Detroit, Arts and Scraps is a non-profit organization that takes donations from companies in the city, big and small. They accept foam scraps, old VHS tapes, colorful plastics pieces, and other miscellaneous items that would normally be thrown away. The objective is to re-purpose materials into beautiful crafted projects.
Arts and Scraps’ mission to the community is to provide sustainable, useful services that have enriched the community for the 25 years and only continues to grow. Arts and Scraps has made their mark on the community by providing a balance of discovery and learning.
Programs are designed to reach all ages, ranging from one to 101. Arts and Scraps’ services reach into schools, day camps, nursing homes and programs for people with disabilities. The programs have a range of learning opportunities including a curriculum on the ecosystem and lessons on the anatomy of the human body.
“Art is not about creativity. Art is about allowing yourself to see an end result, that someone else may not have seen.” Peg Upmeyer, director of Arts and Scraps.
Upmeyer has been inspired by what her organization has been able to accomplish in 25 years, they continue to reach into the community and allow art and creativity to be a pillar in education.
“Art and creativity are two very different things”, says Upmeyer, “Art is subjective and faces judgment, while creativity is more about bringing life to a vision. I am not an artist but I am creative, I can see this strip of foam and think of what I can do with it. It could be a crown, the makings of a mask, or I could cut off the edges and use it for pieces of a bigger project.”
Upmeyer believes that creativity allows people to open their minds and view the world a different way. Many of the volunteers for Arts and Scraps are striving to educate people on the value of creativity. She asserts that art has very little to do with “artistic ability” rather creativity and vision.
When Arts and Scraps first opened its doors in 1989, the goal was to use donated materials and make beautiful, educational and sustainable projects to help the community. Arts and Scraps offers many educational tools like The ScrapMobile and boxed lessons.
The ScrapMobile is Arts and Scraps on wheels. There are buckets of popular Arts and Scraps items like ticket stubs, colorful caps, and sticky foam shapes. The ScrapMobile goes to different schools and does demonstrations with the various educational materials.
“We started seeing a drop in field trips to Arts and Scraps because of budget cuts. We decided that we needed to continue to educate children, so we wanted to bring Arts and Scraps to them,” Upmeyer notes.
Arts and Scraps won The ScrapMobile through a contest, a contest they entered with a clear vision of what they needed and beat out some pretty reputable nonprofit organizations.
Arts and Scraps is a multifaceted, creative organization that is truly a gem in the city of Detroit. They host birthday parties for all ages and are featured at come community events. If you want to let your creative juices flow, check out their website at
Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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