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My Scrapstore Story

For the last couple of months we've had lovely Lisa Kowalewski volunteering with us. Here she tells us what it's been like working at the Scrapstore.

Imagine a place where finest textiles, vibrant wallpapers and all the creative supplies your heart desires are united under one roof. It’s not some fancy (overpriced) art shop, in fact, everything you find there was destined for landfill and saved by a handful of dedicated people. This fantastic place is the Work and Play Scrapstore, and I had the chance to volunteer there for a few weeks this summer.

I study product design and have always been keen to get involved in projects and organizations that promote arts, education and sustainability. With a long summer holiday ahead and living nearby, I was naturally drawn to the Scrapstore, and was warmly welcomed into the volunteering team.

It was so refreshing to do some hands on work (I’m used to spending hours in front of a screen) and at the same time quite shocking to see what qualifies as ‘rubbish’ for some. I gradually discovered all the (many) corners of the store and was surprised anew every time, finding beautiful sample catalogues, creepy clown dolls, blank books from publishers (perfect for sketching) and jars of glitter. No wonder the members (the ‘customers’ who pay a fixed fee and can pick up as much and as often as they like) almost always find what they are looking for, and if not, there’s someone there to rummage through the storage rooms, give advice and suggest alternatives.

Volunteering at the Scrapstore means not only to support an environmental cause, but also to be part of a passionate team who love what they do, and work hard to keep the enthusiasm for arts and crafts alive in an increasingly digitized and time-poor society. When toddlers playing on tablets and smartphones has become a common sight, it is somewhat reassuring to know that there are people out there who know the value of creating and making, and are keen to share their skills. For many of the volunteers (often elderly), the Scrapstore is also a valuable community, providing a perfect opportunity to show off a little, pass on some savvy crafting tips, and catch up on the latest news around a cup of tea.

I can only recommend spending some time helping out at Work and Play or similar charities (even just a day or two can be insightful) to have a look at what they do, realize why it is important and understand what challenges they face (such as costs of waste disposal).

I already feel bad for having to throw out my egg cartons and bottle caps again, because now I know that there is a place for them on a shelf, waiting to be turned into something awesome by a school child, artist or drama group. Big thanks to all those who made my time so enjoyable! Keep doing what you do!

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