The accidental environmentalist The accidental environmentalist

The accidental environmentalist

Nancy Connelly turns candy wrappers into wearable works of art


You know what they say about one person’s trash.

With Nancy Connelly of Cincinnati, one person’s trash is another’s purse.

She had seen purses made from candy wrappers in a gift shop, and admired them but wasn't willing to pay $80 for one. She figured she could make them herself.

"I did a Web search and found a great site with detailed directions and pictures. But now that I know how much time and labor is involved,” she says, “I understand the price tag."

The trash-Into-treasure transformation Connelly masterminded makes her seem like the ultimate environmentalist. But she describes herself as "more cheap than green."

"When I do any kind of craft, I like to find ways to use all the scrap material to make something else,” she says. “I hate to waste something that's perfectly good.

"Crafters are often natural recyclers. We use the scraps from one project to make something else, or we trade materials with other crafters."

Connelly, who works in distribution operations for Duke Energy, has branched out to make baskets, small coin purses and Christmas ornaments as well. “The coin purses are just the right size to hold gift cards,” she says. “My younger daughter has been invited to eight or nine birthday parties … and now all her friends have coin purses.” 


Don't look for Connelly's creations on She gives her purses as gifts and has donated them to fundraisers for raffles. She says she could never make enough of them, make them fast enough or charge enough to make retail worthwhile.

Besides, she says, "I have a lot of other outside interests and could never limit myself to just this."

More Stories About Remarkable People