Lancaster City Culture - Recycling

Lancaster City Culture - Recycling

The sun was barely up this morning when I heard the now-familiar clink and clatter of city trash haulers emptying cans and glass bottles from the big green plastic recycling bins all of us put out at the curb every week. The clinking and clattering seemed louder and longer than usual after the Memorial Day weekend – lots of bottles and cans!

I had spent the holiday weekend in Virginia, visiting a dear friend. While I was there, I helped her load up her truck with recyclables and trash, and we took them to the local landfill and recycling center. (she joked that she sure knows how to show her guests a good time!) All of this got me thinking about trash, landfills, recycling and the impact of all that we manufacture, all that we consume, and all that we throw away.

Like lots of baby boomers, I grew up with parents and grandparents who were deeply and irreversibly impacted by the Great Depression and two World Wars. I was taught early on to “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” That ethic of frugality combined with a deep concern for the earth have been deeply ingrained in me. And I’m discovering some terrific people and organizations here in the city who share those values and are finding wonderfully creative ways to express them through their work.

A lot of them are vendors at Building Character at 342 N. Queen St, which houses over 30 unique shops inside a complex of historic warehouses (circa 1900) originally designed by Lancaster’s premiere architect, C. Emlen Urban. The buildings themselves are the ultimate in “re-purposing”, as these warehouses had been scheduled for demolition in the 1990’s, before some city officials stepped in to stop the demolition. The shops at Building Character feature art, jewelry, home décor, ornaments and other unique items crafted out of re-used, recycled and re-imagined materials.

Here are just a few:

Jewelry artist Kimberlie Burkhart at B. B. Bellezza offers unique jewelry, hair accessories and small decorative items made from old Scrabble tiles, Dominoes, clock hands, keys, buttons and other “found items”. Even cooler, Kim offers “Make Your Own” tutorials with step by step instructions for making all sorts of great things out of what others might consider “junk”. (click the Make Your Own link or the Free Tutorials link on her site)

Kate Maloney at Shiny Tings creates beautiful and original mirrors, mobiles, lights and other decorative things that glitter and shine out of metal and glass. Kate studied photography, sculpture, performance art and neon sign making at The Art Institute of Chicago. A tiny sign in her shop says, “I make new things out of old things…beautiful things out of ugly things…weird things out of mundane things.”

High school students from the J. P. McCaskey Art Club have created “upcycled” jewelry out of old gift cards, fun and funky tacks made from small bits of glass, and handmade greeting cards from recycled paper, as well as original artwork and photographs (proceeds from sales at their shop help keep the Art Club going!)

And Building Character’s owner Marty Hulse has added Salvage Chic to the mix at BC, turning old barnwood, windows, shutters, doorknobs, balusters and other salvaged architectural items into one-of-a-kind home furnishings to “keep history out of the landfills.”

There’s more (a LOT more) at Building Character, including vintage clothing and accessories, original artwork, and other wonderful stuff! And they host several terrific monthly events, including:

Ladies Night Out on the 3rd Friday of every month (coincides with Music Fridays in the city!!), with live music, free chair massages, wine and dessert samples, and more. Mark your calendars, women – the next one will be Friday, June 17th, 7pm-9pm!

And starting Sunday, June 12, 11am-3pm, they’re offering 2nd Sunday Flavor Fairs in partnership with East Side Community Kitchen (stay tuned for more about them in a future blog!!), where you can sample some of Lancaster’s best locally made fresh food, prepared by talented local foodies.

In fact, Building Character is like a little microcosm of the culture of the city: with art, music, history, and creative people with a passion for what they do, with green practices, thrift, recycling and concern for the environment at the heart of it all.

I highly recommend a visit to Building Character. Maybe I’ll see you there on a Second Sunday or a Ladies Night Out.

Meanwhile, you can get a little sneak peek through the photo tour I’ve posted here.

Question of the Day

Leave a comment about something you’ve found a way to re-purpose, upcycle, recycle or give a new life or new home, so it wouldn’t go to the landfill . . .

Posted by Melanie Tagged as: city life lancaster pa sustainability

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