DENVER (KDVR) — If one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, you can consider Thomas Althaus to be a very wealthy man.
His Denver garage is filled to the brim with old tin cans, waiting to be molded into something new.
“One thing that I love is creating something from nothing,” Althaus said. “Creating something that most people see as trash, or recycling.”
Althaus is the founder of Canned Goods, which turns old tin cans into elaborate pieces of jewelry.
For every item they sell, they donate a can of food to a local charity.
“It’s not silver, it’s not gold, it’s not platinum, but it feels really good,” he said.
The idea for Canned Goods was born about eight years ago, when Althaus and his wife agreed not to buy gifts for their 10 year wedding anniversary.
“I googled 10 year anniversary, and I found out the traditional gift for 10 years is tin,” he said. “I was making dinner and I saw an empty tin can, and I said to my boys ‘let’s take this to the garage and see what I can make out of it.'”
Using a hammer and a pair of old tin snips, he fashioned a set of earrings and a bracelet.
“I gave them to her at dinner and she said, where’d you buy these? And I said I made them. And she said, we need to talk about this,” Althaus joked.
With that, Canned Goods was born. He said the quality of the pieces has improved greatly since his original attempt.
The company, was recently featured in Oprah’s magazine, and Althaus said it’s not uncommon to see models wearing the pieces.
“They’re very light weight, and especially with big statement earrings, you don’t want them heavy, you want them lightweight,” he said.
But it’s the good that he’s able to provide to the community, that Althaus is most proud of.
Recently, they’ve been donating cans of food to Joy’s Kitchen, a food pantry in Denver.
“You wouldn’t believe the joy and the appreciation on the faces of the people who come there to get food, and the meals, that we’re able to provide a part of,” he said.
One large tin can produces up to 20 individual pieces of jewelry, and Althaus said it’s not uncommon to find his donated cans right back in the garage, ready to be molded into works of art.
Most of the pieces retail between $32 and $42, and can be shipped worldwide.