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Creativity Through Reuse

Posted by Katherine / October 27, 2013

Let's say you're walking down a street, you spot some old wood left out by the trash, and you feel it could be given a second life in the right hands - but that you don't necessary have the space or skills for it. What do you do, and how can you share this information with others? Trashswag, a small Canadian start up, allows you to map pictures of valuable trash and to share them on their website and mobile application. The site has been designed to help artists and other creative minds with an interest in upcycling and reuse to easily share the location of unique and aged materials found in the streets. The primary goal of trashswag is to help people to find free objects to make cool projects, it is based on the idea crowdsourcing, or in this case, crowd-mapping.

Trashswag is now launching in Montreal ( and hopes to create a community where similar minded people can help one another to locate and share materials worth reusing. The site is also a platform where people can share ideas for projects, connect with one another and can post pictures of what they have made with pieces found on trashswag. It is Trashwag's goal that within the next few years it will grow into a well established community that facilitates the exchange of creative ideas, materials and space.

To understand more about how Trashswag works and how we can get involved I asked Gavin Cameron, founder of Trashwag, and Lori Smith, supporting team member, to answer the following questions:

What is the first thing that we should know about Trashswag?

It is an online map that helps you to share the locations of materials such as old wood, doors, windows, metal, glass and solid wood furniture that have been left in the trash. Our goal is to promote creativity through reuse and to build a community of like minded individuals who share ideas and resources.

Can you explain to us how the site works? And how one can get involved?

It is a crowdmap that offers 3 main things: to help people to find salvageable materials, to give you access to a new community of like minded creative people, and to give you the chance to generate good karma by making contributions to the map when you see something worth restoring that has been left out on the curb.

What differentiates a valuable piece of trash from one that is not?

Salvageable materials includes solid wood (including old wood), building materials excess such as sheet material, bricks or trim and moulding. Architectural salvage includes windows, doors, bathtubs, sinks, radiators etc. You can post anything that can be fixed and is worth while fixing. So don't post chipboard or flat pack furniture because it's probably not worth the work restoring. Also don't post soft furnishings or fabrics.

How is Trahswag helping communities?

In Toronto, we're working with the STEPS initiative and emerging ARTivists - a group of young highschool students to create a found object sculpture in a local park. We're also working with Artscape and helping them design the look and feel for a new cafe.

What is the mission of Trahswag ?

Our mission is to promote creativity through reuse

In two years, where do you see Trahswag?

A vibrant upcycling and restoration community that shares materials, ideas and space.

Where else besides the site can one get involved?

We are hosting a upcycle workshop at the Tool library Toronto and for Montreal we will work on organizing events within the next few months.

If I find something but don't have the space to work on it, can Trashswag help me to connect with other artists that might have a studio?

Yes, that's what we are building towards - a community.

So far, only two people have been reporting to the Montreal site of Trashswag, the team behind the site is looking for more upcycling enthusiast to get involved and to help them grow into their desired community. If you have any questions or ideas don't hesitate to contact Gavin or Lori and I am sure that they will gladly reply to you! You can contact them through the website contact page here.

For more information check out (Montreal) and (Toronto).



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