UACES Facebook Jefferson County is teaching how to turn trash to treasure
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Jefferson County is teaching how to turn trash to treasure

By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Oct. 13, 2017 

Fast Facts:

  • Illegally discarded trash can end up in major water ways, causing a decrease in water quality and disruptions in water flow.
  • Upcycling means reimagining trash to give it uses and keeping it out of dumps
  • The Jefferson County Extension Office is holding monthly upcycling workshops 

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PINE BLUFF, Ark. — With a little creativity, some tools and what others might refer to as garbage, Jefferson County Extension Staff Chair Lee Anderson can teach you how to make anything from coffee tables to bath racks and how to protect water quality at the same time.


Last May, Anderson, who is also a storm water educator, got the idea to create a workshop to teach people how to upcycle, or repurpose, objects like wood pallets that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill or illegally dumped somewhere. The idea is to show people how to revision items that they would normally discard, in hopes to keep major waterways litter free.

Anderson said that items thrown in a ditch will end up in the water. In Jefferson County, that is most often Bayou Bartholomew, the world’s longest bayou that runs through the county. That, in turn, diminishes the water quality.

According to the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the bayou, Bayou Bartholomew’s water quality has diminished in recent years, due in part to people dumping trash, furniture and other items on its banks.

Not only does it affect water quality, it can also have disastrous effects on water flow.

“If trash accumulates, water can’t flow. If water can’t flow, then is comes up on the streets and you’re sitting at a light and your radiator is almost flooded because of the water,” Anderson said.

The class, that was originally only open to master gardeners, is now open to the public and is totally free. The materials are gathered from local businesses and the ideas for the projects come from Anderson.

Anderson works with each participant to build the project. Some of the past projects included coffee tables, wall art and bath trays. When the workshop is over, participants are left with and item they built with their own hands they can customize, a new set of skills and sense of pride.

“I give them a rough draft,” Anderson said. “They can take their project home and modify it how they want. There is a sense of pride about something you made.”

To register or find out more about upcycling workshops, contact the Jefferson County Extension Office or visit their Facebook page

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.  If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact the Jefferson County Extension Office as soon as possible.  Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.  

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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