Matt Loftice of RecycledBrooklyn found green crafting inspiration 1,300 miles away in New Orleans, Louisiana. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, he saw an article about a man recovering all of the wreckage to rebuild his home after it was destroyed. “Doors, windows, lumber…he was he was grabbing stuff that looked like garbage and making piles near his property, determined to start over using little more than his hands and hard work,” said Matt. Seeing this made him look at old and discarded materials in a new light. “To me, an old door was just an old door – the kind of thing you’d see, step over and just keep going. Stopping to look at it, however, it occurred to me that an old door can be pretty much whatever you want it to be – a desk, a dressing vanity, a coffee table…”
His home in Brooklyn is an endless source for inspiration and materials. “Ideas come and go, a short walk with my dog might become an entire afternoon and then it just kinda happens – a few pieces of discarded plumbing pipe catch my eye. I imagine a standing coat rack and the next thing you know, my dog and I are dragging stuff home.” Besides larger pieces, like doors, he even salvages his hardware and paints.
The history of reclaimed and recycled materials is what really speaks to him and draws him to using them. “An old oak pallet used to be a tree, might have stood in a forest somewhere for 50 years. It did its job, carried tons of goods all over the world, and now it’s going to the trash heap…?” This kind of thinking and awareness of the world around us is what gives his pieces that special “hand-crafted with love” feeling.
Green crafting can be as simple as “sourcing materials already in circulation, whether it be paint or nails or glue or lumber.” He sites the free section on Craigslist and Freecycle as two good places to start when it comes to sourcing materials that would otherwise be discarded. He even “recently pulled a 5ft piece of dirty, slimy, soggy driftwood from the East River and made a bench out of it in little more than an hour, it’s one of the cooler things I have in my apartment today.” Simply keeping your eyes peeled for interesting materials in one of the first, and essential, steps to green crafting.
Matt believes that living green and green crafting is a way of life now. He said, “It’s arrogant to believe that mankind can continue to produce and consume without limit and expect to suffer no consequences. Where does it all go? I know it’s no longer in my house, but does that mean it simply disappeared? Of course not. Our discarded materials end up on the streets, in the sewers, in the oceans, in overflowing landfills.” I couldn’t agree more! Even the smallest steps, whether it’s getting fabric from a thrift store or finding wood discarded in your neighborhood, make a large impact. “We’re consumers and that’s not going to change. What can and should change is the amount we consume and where those goods are coming from. A little recycling goes a long way,” he said.
I thank Matt for helping to lessen his impact on the world while bringing us some fantastic pieces of functional art for the home.
You can find more of Matt’s work in his RecycledBrooklyn etsy shop.
[All images courtesy of RecycledBrooklyn. Used with permission.]