Arts & Culture
Perennial STL – Katie Carpenter, Executive Director
It’s time to start looking at the trash in your life differently.
If you do, says Katie Carpenter, Executive Director of Perennial, you can become part of a community that has diverted “almost 4 tons from the landfill” in Saint Louis in the last year alone. The year before, it was 6 tons.
Perennial is focused on “Transforming objects, lives, and communities” through skill workshops to upcycle and repurpose materials. The idea is to create a culture where people think differently about their consumption and can be more deliberate in it. This requires approaching up-cycling from a “creativity angle as well as a sustainability angle.” People need to be armed with the creative vision and the skill to bring their DIY mindset back from the workshop and into their own lives.
Perennial hosts around 30 classes per month on all sorts of topics. Virtual options include packets of materials to pick up from the shop before crafting from the comfort of home. For some of the classes that require a hands-on aspect– like ‘Power Tools 101’– you can do it from a safe social distance with a very small group in the woodshop. Craft Club is a more social way to craft virtually during Covid, with materials for crafting and time for chatting. “Especially for people who have maybe been transplants to St Louis and are looking for ways to learn about what opportunities are in Saint Louis,” these classes provide a fun and sustainable way to find a sense of community.
Materials for the projects end up at Perennial in different ways. Some get picked up from dumpsters as staff spot them on the way to work. Perennial also has a running list of items on the website, so the community can donate items like t-shirts or old bedsheets that they have at home. Even some companies are getting involved in the recycling mindset — one shoe company donates old leather samples which get used in the leather-working class.
Along with an active and growing membership community, Perennial weighs every item that comes through its store and workshop. One sewing class may only save ½ lb of materials, but when you consider that across the sewing classes for the year, the impact is huge.
How can you upcycle in your own life?
For Katie, an easy way to start is with reducing your paper towel consumption. “ That’s the thing about these sustainability, zero-waste thoughts. You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new products to replace what you have.” Instead, start to transition into a new habit while using up the remainder of what you already have.
Once you start, says Katie, “I think that it is a little bit contagious.” It gets people thinking about “‘what other thing do I buy a lot of that maybe I can reduce? When I’m going to make a purchase am I looking at more sustainable companies?’”
Especially during Covid, it might be time for you to look into some fun, easy projects to take your trash and repurpose it! Check out the Perennial website for upcoming classes. And if you have some trash at home, think creatively about how it might gain a new life.
3762 S Broadway,
St. Louis, MO 63118, USA
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