Sustainable artists, designers, companies, and interested residents involved in the fields of recycling, repairing and upcycling are invited to join the newly created “Gift(ed)” platform

A new platform called “Gift(ed)” is launching where representatives of Sustainable artists, designers, companies, education institutions, art, craft, design students and residents interested in supporting sustainability can find useful information and tips on how to make their daily lifestyle more sustainable or start their own small upcycling projects, activities or business. We also expect that some vocational schools will create new modules which will promote repairing, upcycling, sustainable art and crafts. The platform was founded by four organizations: “Darnaus vystymo projektai (Sustainable Development Projects)”, “Kolping University of Applied sciences “, “Daugpilio Design and Art School Saules skola” and “CPK Lecce”. The content presented on the platform will be created by both professionals and newly joined members. Everyone can join the platform – students, teachers, curious parents, actively working artists in the field of upcycling or recycling, artisans, designers, item repairers, handicraft enthusiasts, and curious people looking for gift ideas. The platform is free and available to all internet users. The platform was presented during an event held on Friday, February 24th, 2023.

“We sought to create a convenient tool that would combine skills and knowledge-providing training, a social space for communication, the ability to share their creations, encourage bonding, and create joint projects. We attracted participants from Latvia and Italy, whose experience gave us the opportunity to have practical training recorded, to enable platform users to be noticed in the international space, to communicate, exchange knowledge, and showcase their creations. Platform users can already listen to free courses on circular economy, sustainable design and materials, get upcycling ideas, and open a virtual showcase of their work,” says Žydrūnas Šipka, co-founder of the “Gift(ed)” platform and head of the “Sustainable Development Projects” organization.

Free courses are designed for professional artists and crafters who are willing to start working in reusing, upcycling or repairing

Platform users can already find 4 free courses lasting more than 180 hours. They cover topics such as Circular economy, Materials and technologies, Project management and entrepreneurship, Principles of sustainable design. They were prepared by representatives of Kolping University of applied sciences Prof. Dr. Daiva Beržinskienė-Juozainienė and Dr. Rūta Meištė, as well as colleagues from Daugavpils Design and Art School in Latvia, coordinated by the school’s deputy director Olga Krumpane. As Prof. Dr. Daiva Beržinskienė-Juozainienė said during the presentation, “We now buy, consume, and throw away. Maybe we don’t even realize that there is another way. A re-created, upcycled object, redesigned, maybe with a changed function, can be beautiful, interesting and continue to live by creating benefits, helping to conserve the environment and even becoming a new business model. That is what the theoretical lectures are about – how to turn the results of our activities into a successful business.” Olga Krumpane, the Latvian representative, also spoke about the practical benefits of the structured courses on the “Gift(ed)” platform. “The courses on the platform are designed for both newcomers and professionals working in the field of redesigning who want to deepen their knowledge. As there is currently no official profession of a sustainable artist, we noticed a knowledge gap. To avoid it, we created courses and master lessons on various materials and their processing methods. During the courses, you can learn more about textiles, wood, glass, metal, ceramics, and plastics. We believe that this knowledge will inspire new projects,” said O. Krumpane. After listening to virtual training and completing tasks, participants can receive a certificate confirming their achievement.

Existing artists on the platform have the opportunity to create their own virtual showcase and upload examples of their work. Members who find items they like can contact the author and find out more. All platform members can communicate with each other in the newsfeed, exchange personal messages, and join groups based on topics, or location. Additionally, an artist who wants to share their redesign methods with other platform members can become an instructor and upload their master lessons to the platform. This way, the author’s visibility and reliability are increased, like-minded people are found, and maybe even colleagues.

Representatives from educational institutions shared their experiences on why it’s worth upcycling items.

At the Gift(ed) presentation event on February 24th, 2023, attendees had the opportunity to hear from artists Evelina Birgiolaitė (known under the pseudonym “URFVRT”), Tomas Vitvickis (with the brand “Nepalūžęs”), and Jolanta Daubaraitė (known under the pseudonym “Akimirkų gaudyklė”) about how they turned their passion into a business. “Idea of ​​upcycling items has been on my mind for a long time. I worked for several years in a single-use packaging manufacturing company and realized that I was producing waste. I wanted to make a change, and I’ve always been drawn to wood and furniture. That’s how my furniture repair service “Nepalūžęs” came about,” said Tomas Vitvickis.

Meanwhile, Jolanta Daubaraitė had a slightly different experience. “In January 2021, when we couldn’t work, I came up with the idea of ​​upcycling paper. I hadn’t had time for it before. The first attempts weren’t successful, but I eventually achieved a result that pleased me. That’s how my tiny paper factory slowly emerged – I make blank cards, postcards with seeds in it, and even print recycled paper photographs. I’m glad that businesses that prioritize sustainability are discovering me, and for example, printing their product labels on my paper,” said J. Daubaraitė.

Evelina Birgiolaitė, who has been working in the field of clothing and accessory upcycling for four years, doesn’t have any new items – all of her clothing has been upcycled or renewed. “Fast fashion is currently very popular, but it wastes a lot of resources and creates a lot of waste. I didn’t want to be a part of that. We often buy clothes because we get bored of them, not because they’re truly worn out. So, I started renovating them with dyes, knots, and appliques. My work is colorful and adds color to everyday life. I renovate both clothes I find and those brought in by clients,” said E. Birgiolaitė.

The new platform is currently being tested in Lithuania, Latvia, and Italy. After receiving feedback from users, it will be improved and introduced in other countries. In the long-term goal it is a growing global network with the focus on educators, professional artists, and crafters in order to create a community actively involved in reusing, repairing, and upcycling and inspire new initiatives, new businesses, and a new upcycling profession.

On the platform, we are expecting to get involved with companies and local governments.

During the discussion, Jurgita Udrienė from the Šiauliai Regional Waste Management Center shared her experience on how the sharing of unnecessary items by residents turned into a successful project. “Daiktų kiemas” (The Stuff Yard in Lithuanian) is one of the initiatives that could thrive on the “Gift(ed)” platform. A virtual showcase with donated items, waste from activities (such as packaging, broken and unsuitable products for sale, various scraps, valuable fabric scraps, and more) can be posted on the platform, where an artist can find materials to create art.”

The platform’s slogan – from unwanted to desired! – perfectly reflects the idea that by creatively transforming unwanted items into art, we give them higher value, longer life, and contribute to environmental conservation,” said project co-founder Rasa Visockienė during the virtual presentation. The creators of “Gift(ed)” believe that recycling and reuse can be not only a hobby but also an attractive and promising profession for the future, which should be taught in many of our educational institutions. The beginning of such positive changes should be education and community empowerment.

The free platform can be found at The “Gift(ed)” project is funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ program, project number 2021-1-LT01-KA220-VET-000029739.

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