Creativity helps some turn trash into cash

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - You might be surprised to find out how stuff we toss in the garbage can every day can be recycled, or turned into beautiful works of art and useful items that people sell.

Some South Mississippians say they are making ends meet by taking other people's trash and turning it into cash.

Krista Thompson is a Bay St. Louis artist who makes art out of records.

"I melt them and mold them into bowls and roses, and I make clocks," Thompson explained.

Her husband collects and sells vintage, vinyl records. She dreamed up the idea of her recycled art project after watching him toss out the old records.

"A lot of times there are records that are too scratched and not playable, so I decided instead of throwing them away, I can make art out of them and save history. Records are a part of history."

The question is, has it been a profitable venture?

"I do custom ones with people's names on them and little messages for people, and that's how I really make my money."

Waveland artist Stacey Cato Keyt is also using recycled items to make clothing, jewelry and home decor items.

"If we save all this trash from going into somewhere that it shouldn't be dumped and covered up, and turn it into something spectacular, something unique, something that no one else has seen before," Keyt said.

Like a coat made out of pop top tabs.

"We pop off the tab and I just use those and I'll make a coat, I'll make a skirt. Bracelets, necklaces, ear rings, rings. It's just to your imagination, belts."

She said selling the recycled goods has helped keep her family financially afloat.

"I have five kids, and right now we have no stable income," Keyt said. "So this, to me, is like the only form of cash flow. This is a little bit of cash in my pocket."

Reclaimed lumber from homes demolished after Hurricane Katrina has proved to be Stephen Bandi's bread and butter.

"High quality wood that was perfectly good, but was being taken to landfills, and we thought it would be nice to do something with it," Bandi said.

That something was to make furniture out of it.

"We make simple tables, we make very elegant tables. Media centers, buffets, console tables, coffee tables, book cases, kitchen counter tops out of barge board. We're not limited by anything but our imagination around here."

He began making his Katrina Coolers three years ago.

"It's been real popular," Bandi said. "We kind of built the business around that one product."

His wood furniture and coolers can be found at shops in Mississippi, Florida, Alabama Louisiana.

"It's a stable little business now. It started off as a hobby job, and now it's a full time job. We make a good living, and we enjoy what we're doing, and we have fun doing it."

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