I have always wanted to make things. I love learning and making things. I love watching a project change and morph as it progresses. I love having things around me that have been made by people I know, and knowing the object’s history. In my work life, I manage an afterschool program for a nonprofit here in Austin.
I feel pretty selfish when I think about why I want a reuse center in Austin. I want Austin Creative Reuse to be rocking so I can go there. I want one so I can go find amazing fabrics for the quilt I’m making for my niece. I want to take the elementary students I work with and watch them get excited and laugh making a creation they will take home and play with. I want students to have opportunities for hands on learning, tinkering. I want them to learn without worksheets anywhere close and to feel excited about discovering a new idea. I want to come use a router when I need one once every few years and not need to buy one or forgo a project I want to make. I want to know and meet my neighbors, my ‘neighborhoods’ in the big sense. I want us to find ways to take care of central Texas. When I’m working on a project, I want a place to go where I will happen to start a conversation with a stranger who will have an amazing idea to help my project on it’s way. Reuse Centers need to exist in the world I want to live in.
The people I have gotten to closely work with on Austin Creative Reuse and ones I have met briefly during this time have been a wonderful side effect. Austin has such a huge pool of industrious creative folks. I look forward to others joining us and working to help this happen.
One of the goals of Austin Creative Reuse is to divert waste from the landfill, so we’re always on the lookout of other companies and organizations that do the same.
In Tennessee, Spring Back Mattress Recycling is a company that hires previously incarcerated and homeless men to break down old, used mattresses.
According to Spring Back, the mattresses are “broken down into raw materials such as cotton, metal, wood, and foam. Each of the component parts is bundled and sold to area scrap buyers to be reused in other applications.”
(If can’t see the video, view it on the Spring Back Recycling website.)
Most recyclers and reuse centers won’t touch old mattresses. Landfills would rather not too, because of the time it takes mattresses to decompose (decades) and their bulky size. So, it’s especially great to see an organization taking on the task of cleanin’ up our old mattresses.
My neighborhood recently had their bulk collection pick up and I noticed an awful lot of mattresses ready to be carted off to the landfill… Do you have a mattress or box spring you’d like to find a new home for? Have no fear! You do have options!
As always, you can give it away for free on Freecycle or Craigslist. (Don’t doubt the power of giving it away for free on these two sites. I’ve heard so many people able to given their mattresses away, even when they had doubts!)
If your mattress is unusable or in very poor condition, you can have the mattress recycled.
According to their website, Rubbish Works picks up mattresses and box springs for a fee. They asses whether it should be donated to a local charity or recycled and will dispose of it appropriately.
More info for Spring Back:
NPR story: New Recycling Company Springs From Old Mattresses
If you have a question about how to properly dispose of a particular item, send me an email at email@example.com.
May 8, 2012 at 6:30pm
Directors Present: Angela, Harley, Rebecca, Kaci
Meeting Minutes Recorded by: Angela
Upcoming Meeting Dates
June 6: Board of Directors Meeting (instead of June 12)
June 19: Volunteer Meet up (Angela to confirm that Twin Oaks Library is available)
Kaci suggested signing up for Terracycle as a way to reduce waste with a focus on brigades/items that will be reused by Terracycle and NOT recycled
Rebecca and Kaci to get together to post items for sale on Etsy.com
Amazon is now donation tool on website
New calendar for easier use
Greenlights Board Summit Update (Harley)
Informational Conference Call from on May 15th 3-3:30
Angela and Rebecca to attend event from 6-9pm
Austin Mini Maker Faire
Suggested donations for CDs is $1
Angela to send email about May 22nd volunteer meet-up
Blog posts needed: What do you reuse at your house?
Our reason for filing for non-profit status was to use that to leverage both material and financial donations, with the hopes that we may also find someone that had a building to rent to us for a minimal cost.
Our founding circle dissolved and we started our official board. I became the president, Harley as VP and 2 new additions Angela as Secretary and Kaci as Digital Committee chair. Kami Wilt continues on with us as our Project Committee chair. (She recently started Austin Tinkering School and is bringing the Maker Faire back to Austin.)
During this stage of our organizations development we have started to participate in events to let more people know about our organization. We plan to do a fundraising campaign that will be empowered through our community connections.
Austin Creative Reuse started around three years ago when a group of like-minded individuals gathered to discuss creating a new sustainable community organization. Our group was a mix of artists, art enthusiasts, teachers, marketers, and community experts.
I met Lisa Vickery and Molly Whitten, a mutual friend. Lisa, Molly, and Lenell had been running a co-op called Greater Austin Garbage Arts (GAGA) for some time. They had run several successful events and a small retail space on South First St. At this time they were starting to close down GAGA as Molly was moving out of Austin and Lisa wanted to focus on some other creative environmental projects.
At that same time, Aaron Williams had created a space called AAMP in which he wanted to create a space for artists and musicians to connect with the community. Bernadette Noll of Slow Family Living coordinated a meeting of local artists at AAMP; it was at this meeting that Lisa Vickery and I met Kami Wilt and Ellen Scatton.
The four of us, plus Harley Gambill, started meeting every Monday at Lisa’s or the Green Muse to get to know each other and figure out what exactly we wanted to create. We agreed that we wanted a sustainable organization and really liked the model of Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC and the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse in Oakland, CA.
As it progressed, we realized that we wanted to involve more people and start to get the word out. We held two community meetups. One at AAMP and one at Recycled Reads. Isadora McKeon joined us at our second community meeting, joining our core group.
She had a great start on a business plan that aligned with the same ideas that our group had been writing up. We continued to refine our ideas and filed for our non-profit status. After a year of waiting, we received our approval letter on August 26, 2011.
As far as I can tell, there’s only way to really get to know a nonprofit organization. You could talk to the board. You could read the mission statement. You might even feel good enough to donate money. But there’s only one way to really “get” an organization. You’ve gotta volunteer.
Volunteering with a nonprofit gives you an intimate understanding of the mission, the commitment of the board and other volunteers, and the energy and interest the community has for what the organization has to offer. It’s no longer a statement on a piece of paper. It’s a living, breathing organism with aspirations, goals, and successes you can see and smell and hear.
In the past, I’ve had initial support of organizations thinking their values aligned perfectly with my own only to discover post-volunteering how wrong I am. I’ve also volunteered with organizations that seem enthusiastic in my participation, but in reality already have a diverse, committed volunteer base. They don’t really need me.
Over the past six months, I’ve become increasingly involved with Austin Creative Reuse, beginning as their web designer and IT support all the way to joining the board.
While we’re still getting on our feet, I can see the Austin community has a real need for what we offer. I’ve seen new faces at our volunteer meetings passionately ask how they can help. We’ve got a long ways to go, but I feel the enthusiasm of the ACR group expand with interest and commitment. It makes me feel good and needed and like I’m going to make a real difference in the Austin community.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering with Austin Creative Reuse or sign up for our newsletter.
April 10, 2012 at 6:30pm
Directors Present: Angela, Harley, Rebecca, Kaci
Meeting Minutes Recorded by: Angela
Upcoming Meeting Dates
April 17: Volunteer Meet-up at Twin Oaks Library
April 21: ZeroLandfill (Harley to confirm volunteer needs)
April 28: ZeroLandfill (Harley to confirm volunteer needs)
May 3: Working Session
May 5: Violet Crown Festival
May 8: Next Board Meeting
May 12: Austin Mini Maker’s Faire
Expense/Donations Tracking Worksheet now on Google Docs
Open question: what can we keep with us to show we are tax-exempt for state sales tax?
General Email to go out April 10
Volunteer email to go out each week starting April 16
Send blog posts to Kaci for publishing
Put photos of ZeroLandfill on Pinterest
Angela to file PO Box paper work by April 11
Harley met with Jenny Larson @ Salvage Vanguard (they have a reuse center)
Rebecca and Kaci to propose ACR for Whole Foods Market volunteer day in June (videos created, pictures made for kits, marketing materials created)
Prepare for Working Session (4/26) by reviewing core values
New Board Members
After Mini Maker Faire, we will be extending an invitation to Kami to join the Board
Kaci and I both work at Whole Foods Market and we worked with the Global Office’s Green Mission team to run two material drives, one in October 2011 and one in January 2012. We collected tins, toilet paper rolls, art and craft supplies, leftover wrapping paper and greeting cards (old and used.). From these two drives, we collected over 400lbs of materials.
Learn how to run your own material drive at your school or office.
One of the many highlights of the 2011 East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) for me was getting a morning coffee at Café Mundi and hearing a woman behind me describing a reuse center. She had lived in the bay area and was doing her fair share of spreading the word about reuse centers.
We snagged a spot next to Iona Handcrafted Books on Tillery. We brought out materials left over from the IIDA (International Interior Design Association) Zero LandFill event, from the SXSW Eco Conference and from donation drives at Whole Foods Market and Rebecca’s home. In the mix were vinyl banners, metal tins, carpet squares, tiles, fabrics, trinkets, cardboard, and on and on. We were delighted to disperse the materials out to the public for free. (Once the center is open we will charge bulk rates by the bag for materials.)
To help bridge the communication idea of what a reuse center is, we brought a sign with reuse project ideas. Represented were some of the more common materials we all run across with a need to repurpose and we had so many excited conversations with folks around that sign.
Mary Cantu, founder of Spare Parts, the reuse project in San Antonio, came up to pitch in and say hello as well. She taught us how to make jump ropes from old markers, make paint out of dry makers, and t-shirt yarn! Thanks Mary!!
Our time at E.A.S.T. was all the more fun with the volunteers who came out to help in sorting materials, explaining what we were up to, and stamping business cards! The event was a much needed break from having our heads in behind-the-scenes paperwork. We’re looking forward to getting to know our new reuse friends better!
Thank you everyone who stopped by, intentionally planning, or letting yourself be swept up in the moment. We greatly appreciated the enthusiasm and interest in support that we found.