Author Archives: Carole LeClair

July Volunteer Spotlight – Jan Bland

Austin Creative Reuse Volunteer Jan Bland

What motivates you to volunteer?
I find volunteering very fulfilling.   I have volunteered for many non-profits in Austin for over 30 years.  I still volunteer for 4 other non-profits full time and 2 part time even while spending around 25 hours per week volunteering for ACR. 


Why Ausitn Creative Reuse?
I was looking for something I could feel passionate about.

How long have you volunteered with ACR?
About 2010 I noticed that ACR was requesting volunteers for an event.  I researched the organization and thought Wow this is a cause that I have been looking for.  I have always loved to turn trash into treasure (upcycling), keep as much as possible out of the landfill and repurpose things instead of buying new.  I began volunteering at the festivals and events ACR staffed around Austin and the twice a year teacher events.  From 2012 to 2015 another volunteer and I began holding once a month Upcycled Craft Nights where the public could come and learn how to repurpose things.  We used the donations we had in storage.  We taught many upcycled crafts over that 3 years.   I had found my passion.  I was passionate about getting a creative reuse center opened in Austin.  I visited other Creative Reuse Centers in other states and yearned to have one in Austin.   When the Board found the funding and the center was leased in 2015 I spent every day I could setting up the shelving, helping write policy and procedures and assist in finding merchandise to stock the shelves.  We opened Sept 18, 2015 and I have been volunteering at the center ever since.
 
 What do you feel is Austin Creative Reuse’s biggest impact on our community?
 We do a tremendous service for a segment of the population that wants and needs a bargain.  Our items are affordable, reusable and unique.  ACR receives a lot of vintage items.  People love to come in and find something they would never see. Several customers have said that they would unable to create their product to sell or carry out their plan if they had to pay full price for merchandise

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for Austin Creative Reuse?
I get inspired by artists and crafts people that come in and tell us what they are going to do with our materials.  I’m thrilled to hear stage managers, props finders, makers, etc. find just the thing that they need.  I love to hear the conversations in the bucket room, the squeals of delight, and the new creative ideas they have when they see an item.
 
Bottom line for Jan:  
This is the best store in town.  I love this place!

Tags:, ,

Message from Our Executive Director, Isadora McKeon

I’m really excited to join the Austin Creative Reuse team as the Executive Director! From the early days of helping to brainstorm what the project could be to years of following its success as Rebecca and team brought the vision to life, I have always been passionate about the organization’s mission and thrilled to watch its evolution. As Rebecca departs for another great endeavor in the Peace Corps, it’s a huge honor to take on this new role alongside the amazing staff, volunteers and board members to help carry the vision of Austin Creative Reuse forward.

My focus will be on working with everyone to make sure we have everything we need for today’s operation and a strong plan for the future. I’ll also be working to grow awareness and support of the organization among our stakeholders and within the local community. While you may not see me in the center all the time, my door is always open and I’d love to hear from you – Isadora@austincreativereuse.org. I welcome any ideas or input you have as I get more familiar with the inner workings of the organization, and look forward to meeting you all along the way.

I am grateful to Rebecca and everyone who have given their talent and hard work to make Austin Creative Reuse what it is today, and I thank all of you in advance for your contribution to its future success.

Oh, and one last thing: I’d love to share one of my favorite creative reuse projects with you – sometimes called Pixelvision or Channel Zero, it’s a psychedelic light show you can make with a TV, some toilet paper rolls and a few other basic items that can often be found at the reuse center. Someone posted a video of one on You Tube: https://youtu.be/JzMRSPKc9Ns. Creative reuse rules.

Teacher Gift Ideas

School’s ALMOST out! And that means it’s time for teacher gifts! If you’re in Austin, why not get your child’s teacher an ACR gift card and introduce them to the MOST AMAZING ART AND CRAFT STORE IN TOWN: Austin Creative Reuse.

Teachers spend a lot of money on supplies for their classrooms. They buy everything from school supplies to classroom decorations and materials for big projects too. Once they know about Austin Creative Reuse, they will not only save money but be inspired by all the traditional and non-traditional items they find in the center. $5.00 at a chain craft store won’t get you much but $5.00 at Austin Creative Reuse and you will walk out with your arms FULL of creative fodder.

In case you’re wondering what you can get for under $5.00 at ACR, here’s a small list. And this isn’t even counting the Bucket Area at ACR where you pay just $5.00 for everything you can put in a bucket including corks, containers, fabric sample books, heavy cardboard tubes, matte board and poster board, bags of all kinds, prizes for your treasure box, and much, much more! But back to that list idea, here are a few examples of what you can get for under $5.00 that will help teachers create the most creative classroom ever…

  • Yards and yards of fabric
  • 5-10 balls of yarn
  • 20 packs of crayons
  • 2-5 sketch books
  • 20 sheets of stickers
  • 20 or more pens and markers
  • 5 inches of paper of all varieties from looseleaf to construction paper to printer paper and cardstock too
  • 20 never used greeting cards for every occasion with envelopes
  • 5 glue guns and glue sticks
  • 10-20 packs of markers
  • Oodles of pencil sharpeners
  • Rolls of corrugated banners for classroom décor
  • Handfuls of paintbrushes
  • Oodles of jars of glitter and glitter glue
  • 50 or more sheets of colored tissue paper
  • 10 or more jars of tempera paint
  • An entire parties worth of decorations including paper themed tablecloths, napkins, cups and straws
  • 5-10 sets of knitting needles
  • A drawer full of notions for sewing
  • A variety of paper punches
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

Whether you are a teacher, a crafter, a parent, a curiosity seeker or maker of any kind, come on in and get a gift card for a teacher today. And while you’re in there, take a look around at all the endless creative possibilities in store. Maybe you’ll be inspired to start a project. Or clean out your own workspace. Either way, I guarantee once you see it, you’ll be the first to raise your hand when the teacher makes a request for supplies. And you’ll know where to go in August when the school supply list is staring you down!

Tags:, , , , , , , , ,

The ACR Pricing Philosophy – Nothing is Free

As we set up the center, we are continually asked what the price will be for the materials we will sell or are asked if we will give away items for free.

We believe that every object has a social, economic and environmental impact that influences our relationship with STUFF.

  • While the materials are donated to us for free, our pricing is based on a value to cover the cost of the organization that includes collecting, storing and merchandising the materials in order to be a financial sustainable organization.
  • The prices that we set are evaluated against market prices (first hand retail as well as thrift stores). The intent is to be in line with the economic situation of our local market.
  • We constantly evaluate the price of items and the time that is has been on our shelves. To encourage purchase and usage of the item, we identify ways to use it and share this with the community.
  • We will donate items and at times will give away items for free. However, we would like to continue bringing awareness to people that there is a cost to the goods.  We do not want to encourage hoarding and we want to maintain the financial sustainability of the organization.

Tags:, , ,

Where Do We Get All Our Fabulous Materials?

      Here at Austin Creative Reuse, we love checking our email every day. We are always amazed at the thoughtful and generous folks who reach out to us with questions on what to do with the “stuff” that is just too good and reuseful to throw away.

      Recently, Justina Lambert-Barone of Custom Fundraising Solutions did just that, wondering what could be done signage that’s left over from their events. The signage in question is sturdy corrugated plastic. These can’t be recycled but they have so many reuse and upcycling possibilities that we couldn’t resist picking up a truck full.

Well, it didn’t take long to realize that with a bit of creative cutting and duct taping, they would make wonderful “merch” bins for our store. Since this is a total DIY, we could customize our bins in just about every possible way.  We have been like elves in Santa’s toy shop, turning out just the right bin to hold all our materials.

        We’ve been back a few times now to Custom Fundraising Solutions and each time, they have uncovered yet another way to redirect some of their “waste” stream to Austin Creative Reuse. You see, it’s not “waste” to us, its just a piece of solid energy waiting to the transformed into something amazing.

            So, thanks to Justina for taking the time to think about the stuff in your life. Does it need to go to the landfill or can it find new life in the community? That’s a great question!

You can find out more about Custom Fundraising Solutions at https://www.facebook.com/CustomFundraisingSolutionsCentralTexas

IMG_2146 IMG_2150

Tags:, , , , , , ,

I’m Focusing on Reusing This Week

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 10.47.56 AM

Yep, Tony Carillo of F-minus totally gets us.

When faced with parting with any physical object from our lives, ask yourself some simple questions.
Can I fix it and give it new life?
Can I donate it to keep it out of the landfill?
Can I reuse it in some new creative way?

Even the things we throw in our recycling bin will require energy and resources to bring it back to life.

Our Creative Reuse Center will help you make some of these choices. Our mission is to promote conservation and creativity in our community through reuse. We hope to offer folks a way to extend the life of the stuff they have and means to pursue your creative dreams by providing lots of donated art, craft, life materials.

Tags:, , ,

Take the One Minute Challenge

Do you think about the environment when you’re grocery shopping?

Maybe you buy the bulk container of your favorite snack.  You know, the one that comes in the large plastic tub instead of smaller individually-sized plastic containers (ie. yogurt, nuts, animal crackers). You feel good that you made an environmentally-friendly choice since less material generally goes into larger containers compared to several small containers.

But what happens when the container is empty? Do you dutifully throw it into the recycle bin?
What if you spent one minute thinking about what else you could do with that container first? How can you give it a new life once it’s clean?

Could you store rice or pasta in that large container instead of buying a dedicated pasta storage jar?
Could you store leftover soup in that large yogurt container instead of buying new plasticware?
Maybe your kids’ small toys would fit nicely in the large nuts container.

Please accept our challenge to spend one minute thinking about alternative uses for your used items before you put them in the trash or recycle bin. Even if you don’t have a use for it, save it for Austin Creative Reuse! There are some amazingly creative people in Austin who want your stuff.

 

Austin Creative Reuse Takes a Roadtrip!

We recently found our way to Houston to visit our friends at Texas Art Asylum. These folks have an absolutely awesome space just south of downtown where you can find all sorts of cool, creative, reusable, up-cyclable and “just too good to throw away” stuff!
Besides being treated to a wonder art gallery and “curiosity shop”, we found loads of wonderful art and craft supplies as well as examples of absolute creative reuse genius everywhere. Check out our gallery of photos and if you find yourself in Houston, do yourself a favor and get over to Texas Art Asylum!

 

Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,

How to Organize a Drawer the Creative Reuse Way

IMG_20150510_172610 IMG_20150510_172536

We all have them, and it’s called a Junk Drawer.

Often though, these drawers don’t really contain “junk” but stuff we need, stuff we reuse, stuff that’s small, stuff that’s just too good to throw away. The key is always organization.

Take for instance this sewing/craft drawer. It has its pluses. It’s big, it’s shallow but those things also mean it can get to be a disaster pretty quickly.

Big is great but stuff tends to move around in any direction it wants. Shallow is great too but it also means that most premade drawer organizers won’t fit. Not to mention, there never seems to be the right combination of those little trays. Always just a bit big or a bit small.

One great and reuse minded solution is to just go through your recycling and trash bin. What do you have around that can be manipulated easily into a custom holder. Lots of small trays of varying sizes means everything can have it’s own container.

Sometimes it seems we make the choice, new and shiny or just plain old useful. We’ll take “reuseful” anyday.

Tags:, , , , , ,

Vinyl Banners and Foam Core – What can be done!

While the average citizen doesn’t generate piles of “dated” vinyl banners and foam core signs, business and event planners do! Groups often turn to us to find a way to humanely redirect these very durable and completely reusable materials. We offer these to schools and arts groups for repurposing. Often one side is blank and can be given new life, usually as a new sign. Big tip here is to make them as versatile as possible by leaving off specific information about day, dates or times. That way the sign can be used again and again.
We came up with a pretty nifty idea the other day when faced with such a pile. At ACR, we often need sturdy storage boxes for all our donations. You will need a sewing machine for this but overall, it’s pretty easy.
Here’s the basic steps.
1. Cut two pieces of vinyl in a rectangular shape, same size.
2. Draw a border around the rectangle. The width of the border will be the height of your box
3. Miter each corner using a sewing machine. Heavy duty needle recommended.
4. At this point you can cut the excess material off the mitered corner.
5. Your “box” probably won’t stand on its own, so cut some foam core the exact size of each of your sides. You want a tight fit.
6. Slip the foam core into the openings at the top of each side.

IMG_20150510_160632 IMG_20150510_160609 IMG_20150510_160556

You should now have a pretty sturdy box. By removing two of the foam core sides, the box will compress flat. The box we made goes perfectly in the trunk of a car for corralling loose items or grocery bags, but can pack flat when needed.

More pictures and detailed instructions to come later.  Just wanted to get this idea out there now.