Thursday, September 13, 2012

Car material from GM becomes coats for homeless

One car’s trash is another man’s coat.
Excess material from the production of two General Motors vehicles was donated to a Detroit nonprofit called Empowerment Plan, which is using the material to make coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless.
 The material, a special sound-absorbent called Sonozorb, is stuffed into door cavities and other parts of the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano. Leftover material was then reprocessed by automotive supplier GDC into a “quilt-like material,” said John Bradburn, GM’s manager of waste-reduction efforts, in an interview. About 2,000 yards was donated to the nonprofit.Empowerment Plan, which is located in the Pony Ride building in Detroit’s Corktown, has turned the material into more than 800 waterproof coats that turn into sleeping bags for the homeless. Funded by donations from corporations and individuals, Empowerment Plan donates all the coats for free to homeless people.Empowerment Plan founder Veronika Scott originally developed the transformer coats about two years ago as a student at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. She has since hired eight previously homeless women to make the coats. They can produce about 100 to 150 a month, Scott said in an interview.“The biggest challenge we faced is getting the best materials,” she said.That changed when she met Bradburn while they were both involved in a video series called “Detroit In Overdrive.”“I had heard about her,” Bradburn said. “I approached her and said, ‘What do you think of this material?’”Bradburn said the project was an example of the creative thinking that has allowed GM to go landfill-free at 102 of its facilities worldwide.

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