Second Life: All Things Renewable

The line of spoon rests looks like modern pieces of blown glass art. The abstract shapes and not-too-polished surfaces suggest each piece is a handcrafted masterpiece.

Then I notice the Mountain Dew logo.

The spoon rests are, in fact, a second life for glass that formerly existed as soda and beer bottles. Heated and molded into a flattened shape with a cratered head, items that easily could have been tossed as trash are instead transformed into functional art.

Welcome to All Things Renewable.

A variety of natural detergents and soaps are available.

Sustainable living is priority in this well-lit, airy shop, opened in 2007 by Colorado residents Julie Gleason and Sean McVay. Located in Northfield Stapleton, an open-air retail center in northeast Denver’s Northeast quadrant, All Things Renewable is a one-stop shop for eco-friendly lifestyles.

Glass bottles aren’t the only things finding a second chance here. I stare at a photo frame a few moments before it dawns on me that it’s made out of a bicycle chain. A string of shiny, funky metal shapes create the frame, ensuring attention will be brought to a favorite image. My mind begins to wander and I think of all the items I have at home that I could incorporate into photo frames. I feel the inspiration swell.

My mind quickly switches gears as I come upon the composting display. As a novice composter, I have numerous questions about the process. While I love the concept of changing my leftover produce into rich, dark soil for my garden, the reality of composting can be challenging to a first-timer. After all, there’s a bit of a mess, the issue of space and the potential for odor that can be deterrents even to the most avid environmentalist.

All Things Renewable offers a variety of composting models as well as as educational information.

The sales associate patiently listens as I ask questions and she’s thorough in her answers, keeping her responses simple and easy to follow.

She leads me to a compost model that should be set center stage upon a satin sheet with a beam of light showering it while angelic music plays. It is truly the mother ship of composting. Perfect for an indoor location, this small, airtight container has a foot pedal, an air filter and will constantly stir the materials for me, creating compost in a quarter of the time. While it is a bit pricey, I’m already justifying it in my mind due to its ease and cleanliness. My inner eco-activist might be determined, but it can also get a bit lazy from time to time.

However, the shop isn’t limited to products. Home improvement and energy reduction also begin here. I consider how my kitchen might look with bamboo or cork flooring as I run my hands over the smooth in-store samples. I think of my last utility bill as I read about the solar panels and power and energy appliances offered. I learn All Things Renewable can even help out with residential wind generators and I imagine wind power being produced in my own backyard.

As I consider all the changes I want to implement, I wonder aloud where I should begin. Surely, there are changes that are more immediate or can have a larger impact than others.

The saleswoman fills me in on one of the shop’s most unique services. I can have a consultant come to my home for a “green audit,” which will tell me where my home needs improvement

Non-toxic children's toys, natural fiber clothing and journals made from recyclable materials fill the aisles.

and how to reduce my personal energy use.

I mull over my newfound knowledge as I poke through the rest of the store. Natural soaps and detergents, clothing for all ages made of bamboo blends and hemp fibers, journals made from recyclable materials and non-toxic children’s toys fill the aisles.

As I check out and turn to leave, a piece of jewelry catches my eye. A red fleur de lis earring and pendant set hangs on display, created from recycled vinyl music records. It’s one more creative example of sustainable living in a store that offers the most random items in renewed life.

If You Go

Sheri L. Thompson is managing editor of as well as a freelance photographer and journalist.