Scrapstore will be a haven for crafters while preventing unwanted items from landfill

Scrapstore will be a haven for crafters while preventing unwanted items from landfill
Michelle Sinclair is opening the Resourceful Community Scrapstore in Bognor Regis

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and that’s the concept behind the new Resourceful Community Scrapstore in Bognor Regis.

Set up by craft-lover Michelle Sinclair, businesses and individuals can donate their unwanted materials, ready to be used by crafters, community groups, nurseries and schools, as well as childminders and home-schooling families.

Bognor resident Michelle, said: "I've been aware of the existence of scrapstores for quite a while, as I've always been a keen crafter.

"I always thought that a scrapstore would need to be a massive warehouse, but I visited the scrapstore in Shoreham and was totally inspired by how much scrap they managed to fit into a relatively small space. I started to seriously think this was something I could do.”

Michelle, a part-time library and charity worker, said she felt ready for a new challenge, and a scrapstore was the perfect fit as a self-confessed ‘craft hoarder’.

She said: “It allows me to craft and share my love of craft with others, and it makes good use of not just all the craft knowledge I have gained over the years but also what I have learnt from my work in charities - which means that I am not intimidated by having to set everything up from scratch.

"The scrapstore, which will be based at The Bognor Makerspace on Longford Road, will help prevent landfill and contribute to the circular economy.

"I know it's a bit of a cliche but in ‘the old days’ people did repair and reuse things a lot more because there was no alternative,” Michelle said. “We've been led astray by consumerism, with clothes and machines becoming cheaper and therefore less valued. I think we're starting to come back to an understanding that we need to take better care of what we have - on both a personal and a world level.  

"My teenage daughter and her friends are starting to move away from ‘fast fashion’ and actively seek out sustainable brands that may cost more but are intended to last more than a month. I think people are coming to the same place from different perspectives - for some it's very much about a passion for the planet and protecting the environment. For others, it may be born of necessity as they look for ways to save money. And for lots of people, it's a mixture of both."

Anyone can donate to the scrapstore, whether it’s someone with excess crafting materials that need a new home, or a business with fabric or regular waste which could be repurposed.

“I'm looking for materials that are designed for crafting,” Michelle said. “Fabric, yarn, card, paper, beads, etc, but also interesting things that aren't made for that purpose, like corks, curtain rings, straws, cardboard tubes, the netting that comes as packaging on fruit, along with random small bits of wood or plastic in interesting shapes, and decorative things like fake flowers and pine cones, plus game pieces, jigsaw pieces, little plastic toys, things like that which have lost their fellows so can't be used for their original purpose but could be made into something else.

“Businesses might have offcuts that they create as part of their production process, they might have items that didn't quite come out right so can't be sold, or they might have things that they just can't sell because they overestimated demand or because the season for them has passed.”

Michelle has already rescued some old shelves from a bike shop and Shoreham Library, and she’ll be repurposing library book dust jackets as suncatchers. A friend who is a milliner is set to save unused materials for sculptural netting, and a fabric shop has signed up to donate. Another small local business has donated a stack of A4 canvases which were misprints so they would have just been thrown away.

With plans to open at the end of May, Michelle said: “The people who will get the most out of the Scrapstore are those who come with an open mind, ready to be inspired by what they find and embrace their creativity, rather than approaching it as a substitute shop and looking for very specific things. Children can be great at that if we let them, and we need to allow ourselves that freedom as well.”

The Resourceful Community Scrapstore will have set opening hours each week, plus ad-hoc crafting events for adults and children to get involved.

"People can get involved by spreading the word, thinking about what they might have that could be donated and reused, plus we need a team of volunteers to help collect and sort the donations and help with the store and activity groups,” Michelle said. “And we need members of course.”

Members can sign up for £12 a year and then come in and fill a shopping basket with whatever they want for £5. The idea is to get people excited about the creative possibilities without worrying about the cost of every single item they put in their basket. 

On her hopes for the future, Michelle said: “Keeping the organisation sustainable and having lots of donations coming in and going out quite quickly so it is an ever-changing and inspiring selection. 

“And I think we will see more of the items that might be regular donations now become obsolete in the future. I asked friends and family to save me their Christmas cracker gifts, expecting to end up with a tub full of tiny plastic nonsense - but actually, nearly all the crackers this year had gifts designed to be recycled. So maybe one day we will have solved the problem of waste and scrapstores won't exist. But I doubt it will be in my lifetime. 

“But what I do hope for is for everyone to take a pause before they throw something away and consider whether they can reuse it. If not, can it be recycled? And if none of those, can it be donated to the Scrapstore?

“I also hope we will inspire and excite people to embrace their creativity and find joy and peace in doing so - adults and children alike.”

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