HEAP Encourages to ‘Think Before You Toss’

Items from HEAP’s Eclectic Boutique. Photos courtesy of HEAP

A local non-profit organization has started handing out their “Thrift Cooperative Map” in an effort to educate about the environment and the arts.

Brought to Bozeman by MSU’s Anna Hernandez, The Human Empowered Arts Project (HEAP) works to help the community by inspiring “upcycle creativity” and empowering the community through environmental awareness and contribution.

Since its formation during Earth Week in January of this year, HEAP Bozeman has already organized numerous projects and events to help the community.

One project is HEAP’s Upcycle Workshops, in which HEAP members volunteer in K-12 classrooms and teach children how to recycle things by making them into art. They show the students that they can “create things that are beautiful from what is considered garbage,” Hernandez said.

HEAP helps students outside of the classroom as well. For younger children or those young at heart, the HEAP website has a “Kids Space” that gives step-by-step instructions for fun and safe projects for children to do, like their “Caterpillar Planter” and “Birdfeeder Streamer.”

HEAP also offers something unique for high schoolers. Through this non-profit, high school students (along with college students) are able to get internships and learn about marketing, public relations and the general practices behind running a non-profit organization.

Along with its internships and workshops, HEAP offers an easy way for people to donate old reusable materials. Their website, www.HEAPBozeman.org, lists acceptable items and instructions on how to donate. Also on the HEAP website is an “Eclectic Boutique,” where beautiful and practical art pieces created from recycled materials and homemade non-toxic glues are available for purchase.

HEAP’s most recent contribution to the Bozeman area is their creation of the Thrift Cooperative, a conglomeration of local consignment businesses, thrift stores and pawn shops that have “committed to divert reusable items from our local landfill in the Gallatin Valley,” said MSU student Samantha Middlestead, HEAP’s marketing and writing intern.

Middlestead hopes the Thrift Cooperative will help “make it easy and fun for people to [recycle] instead of making it a chore.” To help push that mentality along, the Thrift Cooperative Map was created.

HEAP began handing out the map during move-in week at the dorms. The map shows the names, locations and hours of each of the businesses in the Thrift Cooperative group.

After a powerful start, HEAP does not intend to slow down. “Each semester we want to fulfill one project,” Hernandez said. Next, they will create a safety guide for classroom arts and crafts activities.

The Human Empowered Arts Project may be young, but members have their sights set high and have already positively affected the local community. “We want to inspire,” Hernandez said. “We want to get you motivated to contribute to recycling.”