Upcycling promotes community, sustainability

GVL/Luke Holmes
The upcycling for our community event took place in the Kirkhof Center on January 18th.

GVL/Luke Holmes The upcycling for our community event took place in the Kirkhof Center on January 18th.

Amelia Eck

Martin Luther King Jr. wore many hats during his lifetime. He was a minister, an activist, a humanitarian. But above all, he was a community member. King’s work and focus, and his legacy today, stand on helping others. The question of helping others, he claimed, was life’s most persistent and urgent question.

The Grand Valley State University Office of Multicultural Affairs created and sponsored an event on MLK Day, involving recycled items to create crafts for members of surrounding communities. The items crafted represent a variety of items needed by community members and nonprofit organizations. This process is called upcycling, eliminating waste to produce different, necessary items made from discarded or no longer useful objects.

Yumiko Jakobcic, campus sustainability coordinator, was one of the main forces behind this successful event.

“Upcycling is creating items that would be headed for the landfill or are found around campus into products that can help members of the community,” Jakobcic said.

The Community Action House is a nonprofit that serves the Holland community and its various needs. The organization aims to provide families and individuals with support and resources, including a food pantry. It gives community members the opportunity to build necessary skills to achieve a stable and prosperous life.

GVSU volunteers converted discarded or misprinted T-shirts found around campus into bags that will be donated to the Community Action House and will provide members of the community with a reusable, sustainable way of transporting food items.

Another one of the products crafted at the upcycling event was a band for people to wear around their wrists to hold up a patient’s IV while in the shower. It’s a popular, simple device used with children because it allows more independence for sick patients.

In addition, volunteers made dozens of scarves and hats for the Fleece Project, which benefits both the Ronald McDonald House and Bethany Christian Services.

“We donate to local, nonprofit organizations and to places like Spectrum Health, clinics where children and others are hospitalized,” said Kin Ma, co-chair of the planning committee.

Memorializing King through volunteering to help the local community is in the very vein of what he inspired people to do during his lifetime.

“Dr. King had such a huge commitment to social justice and the community,” Ma said.