Folks Find Treasure In ‘Trash’

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - January 13, 2010
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Kapolei resident Samlynn Moore shows off her ‘upcycle’ creation at last month’s Malama Learning Center workshop. Photo courtesy of the center.

Ewa Beach resident Gaudencia Palomo-Burns recently conducted an “upcycle” workshop at Kapolei High School in partnership with the Malama Learning Center, teaching 10 participants how to turn a pair of jeans into tote bags.

“The whole idea was to inspire people to do something different, reduce waste and reuse things to live more sustainably,” explained Pauline Sato, program director of Malama Learning Center. “The arts and the environment are often connected, although some people may not think of it that way.”

The inspiration for the upcycle workshop can be traced to the work of Palomo-Burns’ husband, Craig who, like she, is a graduate of the UH Myron B. Thompson School of Social Work. It was his practicum a few years ago, in which he worked with indigenous people from the Philippines who used recyclable items to make a living, that got Palomo-Burns looking at things in a different way.


“We are looking at something that people can take back that they can recycle and make some kind of a living,” she explained. “Plus, I have a really hard time throwing things away, so anything that can be used in a different and creative way is great!”

Palomo-Burns has been creating crafts since she was 6 years old, starting with crocheting, then needlepoint, knitting and sewing. These days, the case manager at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center’s homeless outreach program specializes in crocheted purses.

When she’s not making something, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their rescue dogs: Riley, a Siberian husky, and Fitz, a chow mix.

As of press time, there were no additional upcycle workshops scheduled, but a creative cooking class is planned from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, when residents can learn how to whip up tasty dishes using locally grown foods. Chef Leslie Ashburn from Macrobiotic Hawaii will demonstrate how to make beet salad over arugula, tempeh collard wraps with tahini sauce, and rainbow kale salad. Attendees also will receive seeds to grow their own vegetables.

Fee for the demonstration and tasting is $7, and registration is required. For details, call 542-9107 or visit


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