Crowd-funding campaign launched for eco-friendly materials, programming
— Around the world, shipping containers have been refurbished for a number of uses, ranging from artist studios to storefronts and even churches. Kaley Foster, a local entrepreneur, has created a repurposed container in Akron that will help educate the community about sustainable practices and minimizing environmental impact.
The Akron Sustainer is an 8- by 20-foot shipping container built from repurposed materials and constructed as an educational tool to help Akronites think greener. Foster plans to impart these tools through workshops, hands-on demonstrations and displays, along with eco-friendly additions to the container itself.
“Over the past few years, I’ve developed a fascination with shipping containers and how people around the world have transformed structures once destined for a landfill into beautiful, thriving spaces,” says Foster, who adds that she was enamored with the flexibility of these small spaces at last year’s Better Block in North Hill. At the Better Block, her mentor Gina Burk rented a container to temporarily house four local businesses, including Foster’s own startup, Urban Buzz, a beeswax candle company dedicated to providing 100-percent natural, clean-burning candles.
Thanks to a SPARC (Small Projects Achieving Real Change) grant from Torchbearers and the Knight Foundation, work began on the Akron Sustainer at the beginning of this year, in time for the Home Builders Association’s Home & Flower Show. At the February event, held at the John S. Knight Center, the Sustainer was part of a tiny village display, and Foster was able to reach about 10,000 people with this Earth-friendly message.
Now she’s launched a crowd-funding effort to take the project into Phase Two, so she can purchase eco-friendly materials — like a solar panel, vegetative roof, rain barrels and a rainwater catchment system — and leverage the container as an educational tool to teach children and others about green practices. (Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.)
“Using a shipping container to house educational programming immediately tells the story of reuse,” says Foster. “By using the container to host workshops, we hope to encourage people of all ages to reuse and recycle materials in order to create something even better than its original purpose.”
She adds, “We like to call this, ‘thinking INSIDE the box.’
“We plan on partnering with local organizations who showcase this mindset to teach our workshops, classes and field trips. The donations we receive will also be used to promote these workshops, as well as to purchase any materials needed. Our main objective is to educate Akron residents on sustainability and green practices, in turn, minimizing our environmental impact on future generations.”
The Akron Sustainer can currently be found outside of the Cascade Lofts, at the corner of North and Howard streets in downtown Akron. And starting Monday (Sept. 26), the Sustainer will enter its next aesthetic phase, as the Art Bomb Brigade will adopt it as the canvas for its new mural, the theme being the four seasons – a season for each side of the container. The Brigade has painted a number of eye-catching murals throughout town this year and is the product of a Knight Arts Challenge grant.
While Foster has her hands full with a job at her family’s title company and running her own candle business, she leads the Akron Sustainer effort mainly due to her passion about minimizing her and others’ impact on the earth.
“Sustainability is important to me, because I am a stakeholder of this planet. I have many friends to thank who have helped me realize that it is my duty to leave the Earth better than I found it for many generations to come.”
She adds, “I am definitely nowhere close to being the most eco-friendly person, but I’m trying every day to be more conscientious of my actions by using less, riding my bike or walking more often to destinations, as well as spreading the word about new ideas relating to sustainability. Recent studies have shown that fossil fuels kill more people every year than wars, murders and traffic accidents combined. The time is now to use more renewable energy, while enabling our youth to be catalysts for future change.”
Foster notes some interesting uses of shipping containers around the world, perhaps the most resourceful being a shipping container mall named Re:START in Christchurch, New Zealand. “When their downtown was destroyed by an earthquake in 2011, they received hundreds of shipping containers filled with supplies. Instead of letting them pile up, they decided to rebuild their broken city with these containers. Today, it is considered the cornerstone for the tourist industry in Christchurch and has been named a No. 6 ‘must visit’ destination in the world by Lonely Planet.”
The Akron Sustainer will be available for viewing during the Crafty Mart/Cascade Lofts open house event Oct. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m.
To lean more about the crowd-funding effort, visit https://www.gofundme.com/2dqjpjm4.
To find out more about the Akron Sustainer, visit https://www.facebook.com/AkronSustainer/?fref=ts.