Corporate waste

Guest blog post by Marjory Zaik

When the words “marketing” and “crafting” appear in the same sentence, the name “Martha Stewart” might follow close behind, along with references to “empire” and “profit.” The word “centerpiece” usually conjures up a (disposable and, usually, costly) floral display, whether an individual or a for-profit business is hosting a tabled event, or a charitable organization is honoring the generosity of its supporters.

Let’s change up the vocabulary a bit, keeping “marketing,” “crafting”  and “centerpiece,” while adding “social responsibility,” “the Pioneer Valley chapter of the United Way” and “Knack.”

What would a socially responsible centerpiece for a charitable organization’s donors’ banquet look like? Who could craft it, and out of what? Could, in fact, an organization’s outdated marketing materials, having outlived their use to solicit contributions and promote the programs supported by its top donors, become a decorative component of the centerpiece? What other materials could help create cost-effective, meaningful decorative items that will outlive their brief use at an event and perhaps serve a similar purpose in another setting at another time?

The Pioneer Valley chapter of the United Way contacted Knack to help them do just that — create 25 socially responsible, sustainable, reusable centerpieces using, in part, outdated marketing materials, for a celebratory donors’ banquet, one for each table — after seeing co-owners Amber and Macey crafting paper flowers on a segment of local NBC affiliate WWLP’s “Mass Appeal” program.

Amber and Macey designed the completely upcycled, sustainable, reusable centerpieces from a variety of elements both natural and manufactured. Corporate waste paper (the United Way’s outdated marketing materials) became pretty, sturdy handmade paper blossoms supported by dried bamboo stalks from Amber’s home garden. Large, red-striped spice jars with attached, hinged lids — a previous bulk donation to Knack’s thrift store — became the vases holding a trio of paper flowers. Plastic tubes from Knack’s supply of donated office waste secured each bunch of paper flowers. Pebbles and shells (gathered by donors from local and far-flung beaches) filled the “vase,” hid and supported the plastic tubes and added visual interest.

In the spirit of social responsibility, the United Way plans to reuse the centerpieces for future events.

This story’s happy ending inspires an invitation and a call to action.

Businesses and organizations who would like to follow in the United Way’s admirable footsteps are encouraged to contact Knack to design and create centerpieces for tables at events (or for workspace decor items, or favors, or…. there are endless possibilities).  Amber and Macey will envision aesthetically pleasing ideas for upcycling materials that may include potential waste from your own enterprises as well as items from their donated stock, and they will assemble them for you.

Commerce, creativity and sustainability unite in an all-around winning outcome.

Additionally, businesses and organizations with materials they no longer need or use are invited to contact Knack to inquire if their potential waste would be suitable for donation to Knack’s thrift store, a treasure trove for the growing community of savvy, crafty shoppers with an eye for creative reuse.