Who Gives a SCRAP reduces, reuses and recycles art materials

Graham Shapley

art supply
Who Gives a SCRAP is a recycle art store located off Shields and Drake. They accept donations of used art supplies including dolls, paints, stamps, wood, fabrics and more to reuse and sell. (Clara Scholtz | Collegian)

A table of uncanny dolls rests near a bin full of old computer parts and a rotating magazine stand full of unused sheet music. Game pieces and cards are in another bin, and a whole wall of stamp bins towers over everything. Welcome to Who Gives a SCRAP, a “creative reuse” retailer in Fort Collins.

Not only can art supplies be expensive, but there also comes the question of where to get unorthodox supplies. What if an artist wants an old-fashioned baby doll or a license plate? For store manager Carly Blewitt, this is one of her major goals.

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“We want to make it more accessible, and make it easier to try new things in the art world,” said Blewitt. “Buying supplies new can be very expensive, which can deter people from starting new things because you don’t want to drop all this money on stuff you might not end up liking.”

Who Gives a SCRAP has been open for about 2-and-a-half years as of May 2018 on the corner of Shields and Drake. Its primary objective is higher-minded than merely providing affordability for creative projects.

“Our main mission is trash diversion and waste diversion,” said Blewitt. “We are taking all of these arts-and-crafts hobby supplies in the hope that it will stay out of the landfills and to provide a good resource for people in the community.”

Recently, Blewitt has had discussions with Colorado State University about providing scrap cloth bins for the Design and Merchandising Department for students in the apparel design concentration. These bins would provide students with extra pieces of fabric without having to waste a fresh piece.

Who Gives a SCRAP is open Monday through Saturday in the southwest corner of the Drake and Shields in Fort Collins. 

“(The Design and Merchandising Department) has a great interest in social responsibility as it relates to the textile industry,” said Karen Hyllegard, head of the Department. “It’s our responsibility to teach (our students) about it. The issue of sustainability is complex, and we’re trying to change the industry and change the public.”

Who Gives a SCRAP is committed to environmentalism and reusability, but they see a lot of change that needs to be made in both public and private sectors.

“I’ve seen this movement of people using canvas bags instead of plastic shopping bags, which is awesome,” said Lisa Dratch, the director of community engagement for Who Gives a SCRAP. “But I should tell you that I’ve pulled more boxes of unused plastic bags out of dumpsters than me, you and everyone you know will use in their lifetimes. Yes, it’s important to carry those canvas bags, but we also need to put more pressure on the organizations that we support to do their part and take those extra steps.”

woman fixing art wall
Who Gives a SCRAP is an recycle art store located off Shields and Drake. They accept donations of used art supplies including dolls, paints, stamps, wood, fabrics and more. Yolanda Heaton, in resident art instructor, rearranges her wall art. (Clara Scholtz | Collegian)

Of course, the things that already exist tend to pile up, leading to the disorganized nature of Who Gives a SCRAP. 

“(Our biggest challenge) is that we’ve gotten an amazing response from the community, so we’ve got a lot of stuff,” said Blewitt. “Being able to take all of it, clean and process it, keep it organized and under control – it takes a lot of patience. We have to know that we’ll never have this perfect. We rely heavily on volunteers.”

Right now, the store predominantly receives their products from individual donations. Blewitt says people will bring what they can fit in their car or carry, but a giant donation will occasionally come in as well. Walking into the store, a customer will be greeted by an overwhelming amount of supplies and oddities. Although intimidating, Dratch and other artists draw inspiration from the disorder.

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“That’s a lot of my artistic background, is found objects,” Dratch said. “In a world where you can order the perfect thing and have it shipped at great expense to our natural resources, it’s a little bit different coming into a store like this and taking inspiration from the things that already exist.”

Collegian reporter Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham.