Celebrating Earth Day with Perennial – A Nonprofit Promoting Sustainable and Self-sustaining Lifestyles
Out of the 75% recyclable waste in America, only 30% of it is recycled. Recycling trash can significantly alter the environmental impact of human actions.
On the occasion of Earth Day, we engaged in an insightful conversation with Katie Carpenter, Executive Director, Perennial. This nonprofit organization offers DIY and crafts classes which use salvaged materials. They are on a mission to teach people the skills they need to transform discarded items and live sustainably.
Tell us about your nonprofit and how to create an impact in the community.
Katie Carpenter: Perennial’s journey started around 11 years ago with a mission to build a creative culture of sustainability. Our art classes include sewing, woodworking, leatherworking, mosaics, stained glass, and many more. What sets our workshops apart from other art classes is that they primarily use salvaged materials. At the heart of every class is the idea of transforming something that people will otherwise throw away into something with beauty and function or extending the life of something that already exists.
Each year, we teach about 250 classes and host many community events. During the pandemic, we started exploring virtual workshops to share our mission beyond the St Louis region. Last but not least, we offer a variety of free programs for our different social service partners and neighborhood partners, ensuring that people in our community have access to creative opportunities.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Earth Day?
Katie Carpenter: Earth Day provides a concrete way for people to think about what they can do right now. It is an excellent opportunity to tell people about the issues in their local community and how they can get involved in solving these problems. Earth Day is a great starting point to think about our consumption and sustainability habits.
What is one simple earth-friendly resolution you suggest?
Katie Carpenter: As we all come from different backgrounds, it is difficult to give one practice that applies to everyone. But one simple act that we can all try is a trash audit. Keep a tally of what your household throws away by adding a list near your trashcan at home. At the end of the week or month, assess what types of waste your family throws away most often and consider what solutions could help you reduce your waste. If you notice that you have a lot of food waste, you may want to learn about setting up a compost system. It’s an excellent way for the whole family to get involved.
How can people help your organization?
Katie Carpenter: One great way to volunteer with Perennial is to follow what we’re doing and see how it applies to your community. We’re always trying to share tips and content through our social media channels. Try some of our DIY activities from materials you probably have at home and share them with a friend. People passionate about reuse and sustainability can help us spread the word by sharing what they’ve learned on their sustainability journeys. It’s like a ripple effect. Once someone learns something, they teach ten people, who will teach ten more, and the cycle goes on, and slowly we will build a more sustainable community.
Is there any message you would like to give out to our readers?
Katie Carpenter: I would like to offer my gratitude to anyone engaging in any way, big or small, on Earth Day. Getting started can spark so much action, and I think we all need a moment to say I’m going to change one habit. Now, what do I need to learn, or what support do I need to make it happen? You have a greater influence on the people in your community than you know. Keep committing to making a difference because it adds up.