Blog

Austin Creative Reuse recognized as Austin Green Business Leader

CityofAustin_AGBL_Logo_Platinum_7543C_RGB_

Austin Creative Reuse was recently recognized by the City’s Office of Sustainability as an Austin Green Business Leader  at the Platinum level. The city program rates local business and nonprofit entities on a wide range of factors that contribute to their overall environmental impact score. Given the core conservation mission of Austin Creative Reuse, we were delighted -but not surprised- to be recognized at the highest level.

As a new board member and new chair of the sustainability committee, completing this application and preparing for the site visit gave me opportunities to learn more about the details of the center’s operation, as well as ideas for new ways to increase our positive impact. Some of the factors measured are related to  general policy and values,  while others get into the nitty gritty of our operations. For instance, do you know which types of fluorescent bulbs are considered efficient by current standards? I didn’t! But I’ve learned that the T8 type we use *is* more efficient than the older T12 type, and that in any future renovations, we can increase our efficiency even further by moving to T5 or LEDs.

The AGBL scorecard functions both as a measurement tool to assess our current impact, and as a roadmap for continued improvements toward sustainability.  Austin Creative Reuse earned many points on this scorecard through activities and strategies that have been core to the organization’s values from the beginning. Even in these many areas where we were “ahead of the game”, the scoreboard still had something to offer in terms of amplifying our effects. For example, we’ll now start sharing our sustainability policy and strategies with our neighbors, and advocate for more sustainable building management practices in our whole complex.

Board of Directors 2016 Planning Session Update

Twice a year the Austin Creative Reuse board spends a few days reviewing the activities and outcomes of the organization and creates plans for the next 6 months.  These plans allow the board to focus the actions of the board and other volunteers as well as to ensure that we make progress but don’t over commit our resources. Austin Creative Reuse is currently all volunteer run and while there are many exciting opportunities, we want to make sure we take on only what we have the capacity to do.

The organization is guided by three strategic goals:

  1. Operate with transparency,  evidence-based practices, and collaborative processes to be an efficient and effective non-profit organization that balances the needs of all stakeholders. Stakeholders: Customers, Volunteers, Employees, Material Donors, Financial Donors, Community, Environment
  1. Be a self-sustaining and scalable non-profit organization
  1.  Be a resource for the Austin and Reuse communities that provides programs that utilize or support the creative use of repurposed and discarded materials.

Our Year End report is being created and will be released in the coming months.

Below are updates on key areas of the organization:

Finances and Accounting

giftcard

Financial health is good right now, sales have been steadily increasing and we’re conservatively budgeting to maintain our current sales level through next fiscal year (April 2016 – March 2017).

Considering the strong financial picture and the need for more help in the store, we’ve added ACR’s first employee to next year’s budget.  It’s a big step, both financially and emotionally.  ACR is growing up!  The board is excited about the coming year and the additional services we hope to implement.

Gift cards are coming soon! We’ll have ACR gift cards available shortly – they’ll easily work with Square (both loading balances and using for purchases) and are reloadable, so encourage customers to reuse those cards!  We’ll take $0 balance gift cards back and reload them for someone else.

Fundraising

Capture

Now that we have achieved our goal of opening the center, we will focus our fundraising efforts on supporting operational and programming needs. Top fundraising priorities for 2016 are: securing a Community Initiative Grant,  holding either an annual fundraiser or a series of smaller-scale events, and the holiday campaign.

There was discussion and initial planning around having periodic in-store fundraising efforts targeting various programming/operational  needs.  We also discussed making community impact statements more often to keep  public/volunteers  informed. Updates were made to board fundraising responsibilities and commitments to be more action-oriented.

Educator Committee

educators

We reviewed the results of the Open House for Educators and other updates from the educator committee.  The most popular need that Educators requested from Austin Creative Reuse was to hold “Brainstorm Nights,” where educators from all over the city who teach similar grade-levels and subjects could meet in the Center to share ideas for reuse lessons.  The committee is discussing how this can be implemented in a sustainable way. The committee will also be looking for grant opportunities to assist with programming, planning a similar Open House event for August, and working to build an online community of educators.

Sustainability Committee

sustainability

We created a sustainability committee with Cory Skuldt as committee chair. We completed and passed a Sustainability Vision and Policy to assist in our efforts to walk our talk and. It can be viewed on our site below our core values statement here.  The core mission and work of Austin Creative Reuse is proactively increasing sustainability – this policy helps to guide our efforts embedding sustainable practices into every aspect of our operations.  Austin Creative Reuse applied for  Austin Green Business Certification, and was certified at the highest level (Platinum).  Cory is representing Austin Creative Reuse on the AISD Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee, advocating for reuse as a pillar of AISD’s sustainability plan.  In addition, the committee will focus on relationships with other environmental organizations like the Austin Materials Marketplace, The Reuse Alliance Texas and the Austin Zero Waste Alliance.

Center Operations Committee

Our Creative Reuse Center has been open for business for 6 months now and every week, small changes and additions are made to our operating procedures to improve our workflow.  At this time, the process of Weigh/Sort/Price takes up the vast majority of our volunteer effort.  We’ve found that microsorting of small items is a big part of our process but one that brings lots of value back into the items that are donated.  Turning that mixed bag of buttons, beads and writing instruments into cohesive bags of art/craft supplies is a lot of work!

We’ve arranged our center into thoughtful sections to make it easier to shop but we are seeing a real need to define “champions” or “owners” for all sections.  These volunteers would be responsible for making each section look sharp and easy to shop.  When we sell out of one item, containers need to be pulled and new inventory in its place.  Prices need to be re evaluated on a regular basis.   Items that are unique or high quality need to featured.  Moving inventory around also makes it fun for our weekly shoppers.  It helps them to see materials that might have gotten overlooked.

Next big challenge is to offer workshops and classes.  We have the space, materials, tools and even some artists/crafters interested in heading up these workshops.  Things we still need to define are cost, advertising, timing but most importantly, volunteer resources.  We are looking to turn our current Tuesday Volunteer Activities Night into a regular Create Night.

In addition, we’ve found two volunteers with significant summer camp experience.  We hope to work with them to define at least 1 summer camp for kids.

Board Nominating Committee

The board has several member updates.  Rebecca continues to be our President and Carole is Vice-President.  Cindy renewed her board commitment for three years and does a great job leading our fundraising efforts.  Leslie heads up the educator committee while juggling a new baby and another one on the way!
Cory is our newest member and recently built a sustainability policy for the center.  She will be our chair for the board sustainability committee.  Katy is our board treasurer and she just completed her three year term.  We are grateful for her service and happy that she will stay with us another year and assist in finding a great new treasurer.  Michele is interim board secretary but will be leaving the Austin area this summer and relocating to Florida for new job opportunities.

We are excited to grow our board and we are communicating with several interested people.  In addition, we are planning to put out a call for board applications later this spring.  Michele will be the contact person for anyone with questions about joining the board.

Communications

Sharing information and growing community is vital to the success of the organization. We are continuing our efforts on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Meetup) and Google pages and Yelp. We have a google grant and have adword campaigns running to continue to promote the organization.  We are in search of a volunteer to take on sending out our email newsletters and a volunteer to assist with web updates.

We are planning an upgrade to our website and while we figure out the new theme and navigation for the site, we will continue to make small improvements to enhance our visitors experience.

Events

While developing Austin Creative Reuse over the past few years, we participated at many events to build awareness of the organization.  For the next six months, we are limiting our participation at events in order to concentrate our time and effort on the operations of the volunteer center.  We are still in need of volunteers that can assist consistently at the center.

 

 

What Can I Do with Books?

Once upon a time, we read and listened to stories out of books. Now that we’re in the digital age, bookworms are downsizing and opting for digital copies of beloved tales. If there is no more room left on your bookshelves to display your book collection or if you’re thinking of parting ways with some books, here are some local places you can donate to so that stories can be re-told and passed down to others.  

  • Inside Books Project is a nonprofit that sends books to prisoners in Texas to promote reading, literacy, and education. They have three drop off book donation locations at Space 12 (3121 East 12th Street), Monkeywrench Books (110 N Loop Blvd E), and Bouldin Creek Cafe (1900 S 1st Street). They are in need of dictionaries, graphic novels, trade books and how to manuals, and many more!
  • Bookspring  is a literacy program that provides reading experiences to children and their families to close the literacy gap in Central Texas. You can donate gently used children’s books and popular teen and adult books at their office located on 2006 Greenbrook Parkway.
  • Recycled Reads is a bookstore that is a part of the Austin Public Library system and is one of Austin’s main book recyclers.  They help the City of Austin work towards their goal to zero waste (5335 Burnet Road).

FullSizeRender-2

 

However, if you’re like me and get too attached to books to let them go, there are creative ways to reuse or repurpose them. For instance, books make excellent planters for small succulents and book covers to disguise any e-reader. You can also start your own library! Little Free Library is a great way to bring communities together by sharing and exchanging books with your friends and neighbors. All you need is a box and some books and to register your upcoming library. Check out their website for more information on how to start a one in your community!

 

New Board Member and Spring Interns

Please join us in welcoming our new Board Member Cory Skuldt and our two Spring Interns Toni Red and Kaci Lambeth.

cory skuldt picNew Board Member – Cory Skuldt

Cory’s background is in nonprofit management, arts, and education. She graduated from the Massachusetts College of Art in the Studio for Interrelated Media, where she worked with reused textiles and film. She went on to found Boston Skillshare and Skillshare Austin, creating community education events for all ages, and later received her Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the Center for Community Based Non-Profits.

For the past 9 years Cory has been working to develop a local thrift store from a small, primarily volunteer run-effort to a growing cooperative social enterprise, generating funds for grassroots nonprofits while diverting waste. She’s been inspired by connecting with the broader reuse community during that time. She recently left her position there in order to pursue an MBA in Sustainability at Bard College, with the ultimate goal of advocating for reuse as a crucial sustainability strategy in business, nonprofit, and government sectors.

Originally from Somerville, Massachusetts, Cory has lived in East Austin for 10 years with her two sons. Creative projects and adventures in natural places are her family priorities, and she blogs about connecting kids with nature and play.

Spring 2016 Interns

toni_red
Toni Red : As a self proclaimed environmental activist, Toni loves to encourage others think green. She gets to do just that as an intern for Austin Creative Reuse. Since 2013, Toni has been spreading the word about ACR and reuse by writing blog posts about reducing waste and reuse projects. She is currently in her final year at UT and will graduate with a degree in Environmental Science with a focus in Biology. She wants to continue working for the environment by protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat.  (Spring 2014- Spring 2016)

KaciKaci Lambeth is a third year advertising major, with a focus in Media, at the University of Texas at Austin. She has a passion for reuse and sustainability, and is excited to use her skills to further Austin Creative Reuse’s goals of spreading education, community, and creativity throughout Austin.

 One day she hopes to work in the business of promoting businesses for sustainability and social good. Right now, she is a freelance graphic designer, full time student, and academic research assistant.

 

Amplify Austin 2016

amplifyACR

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Creative Reuse is thrilled to participate for the 4th year in I Live Here, I Give Here’s Amplify Austin Day on March 8th, a 24-hour day of giving to Central Texas nonprofits.

Thanks to your generous support during last year’s #AmplifyATX Day we were able to open Austin’s first creative reuse center.

Help us to continue to serve our community and reach our goal of $2500 by giving on March 8th and 9th during #AmplifyATX @I Live Here, I Give Here.

We are especially excited to participate this year with #AmplifyAssembly.

Amplify Assembly @ Austin Public is a FREE kick-off event for Amplify Austin Day, on March 8th. Over 40 local nonprofit organizations are coming together in one location to spread the word about their individual causes, while promoting Austin’s 4th Annual City-wide giving day!

Produced by Leap to Success and Austin Film Society, and partnering with Austin Public Access, the event will include live, on-air coverage and entertainment, hosted by Amanda Tatom of KXAN’s midday show “Studio 512.”

Amplify Assembly at Austin Public
Tuesday, March 8  at 6 PM – 9 PM
1143 Northwestern Ave, Austin, Texas 78702

Donate now

Austin Creative Reuse Grand Opening Celebration

grandopening

 

 

 

 

Thank you for joining us for Austin Creative Reuse’s Grand Opening Celebration.  It was amazing to have the community come together to help us celebrate the opening of the center.  Thank you to Greg Casar, Austin City Council Member District 4, for his inspiring remarks about hope and making change in the community.  And Thank you to Greg Casar, Bob Gedert, ,Claudia Montero, and Kenya Johnson for joining us in a “Ribbon Cutting Ceremony”.  We made the ceremony our own by creating a chain of hearts that was then decorated by the community and will be hung up in the center.

All of this would not be possible without our amazing volunteers. There were volunteers that helped us get started years ago as we built awareness and inspired reuse at events, to the Board Members that guide the way and to the weekly rock stars at the center that give their time and energy to make the center look so organized and fun.

Austin Creative Reuse mission is to foster conservation and reuse through creativity, education and community building. The center not only prevents items form unnecessarily going to the landfill, it also provides affordable materials for the community to create and explore their artistic nature. The center is a place to be inspired, to learn and to gather to create. Through tinkering and creative exploration, reuse inspires the engineers, designers, architects, artists and creatives of today and tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Austin Creative Reuse’s Grand Opening Celebration in the News

We would like to thank Nancy Flores of the Austin Statesman for the amazing article: “One person’s trash is this center’s treasure” and Robyn Ross of the Austin Chronicle for the wonderful article “Making Reuse Mainstream: A combination of public and private organizations are working on alternatives to recycling”

Having these 2 great Austin publications share Austin Creative Reuse’s story helps more Austinites understand the importance of reuse and helps to connect affordable materials to the creatives in Austin.

Hope to see you at the Center soon!

 

 

Grand Opening Celebration February 13th

unnamed (2)Come Celebrate with us.
On Saturday, February 13, 2016 from 10am to 2pm, join us for the Grand Opening Celebration of Austin’s first Creative Reuse Center located at 6406 N IH 35, #1801,  Austin, TX 78752.

The celebration will start at 10am with a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.  Among the guests attending the ribbon cutting ceremony will be:

  • Greg Casar, Austin City Council Member District 4
  • Bob Gedert, Director of Austin Resource Recovery
  • Natalie Betts, City of Austin Recycling Economic Development Liaison
  • Claudia Montero, local reuse artist;
  • Kenya Johnson, Chief Operating Officer of the Girl Scouts of Central Texas

The celebration will continue until 2pm with free paper crafting, reuse games and refreshments.

The Creative Reuse Center provides a focal point for our mission.  The community will find affordable materials for creative exploration and be inspired by reuse examples, events, activities, and classes.

board

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsors:

wfm-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

SearchRPM_austin_seo_logo

 

 

logo

 

 

 

 

 

ACR visits the new COA Recycling and Reuse Drop Off Center

I visited the new City of Austin Recycling and Reuse Drop Off Center in December.   I was excited to see the new options that are available and most importantly to see the new styrofoam compressor.

styrofoam_machine

Styrofoam Compressor

Styrofoam has been a difficult material to deal with since it takes up so much space and weighs so little; it was economically not efficient to fill a truck and ship styrofoam anywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A large cardboard box of styrofoam (first photo) will make one of the pieces that you can see in the box. (Second photo)

The new center now accepts many materials and has expanded what is available in its “Reuse Store”

Accepted Items

  • Plastic bags (clean and dry)
  • Plastic film / plastic wrap (clean and dry)
  • Styrofoam (clean and dry)
  • Scrap metal

Large hard plastic items

  • Lawn chairs and furniture
  • Playground equipment
  • Children’s pools
  • Pet carriers
  • Trash cans
  • Cardboard
  • Hard plastic
  • Paper
  • Cans and foil
  • Glass bottles and jars

Not Accepted

  • Mattresses
  • Furniture
  • Toilets
  • Non-recyclable trash

ReUse Store: Availability varies, but items may include:

  • Art supplies
  • Cleaning products
  • Household chemicals
  • Automotive fluids
  • Recyclable batteries

More information can be found on the City of Austin’s website

Austin Creative Reuse: One Step at a Time

Guest Blogger: Marissa Crenwelge, Student Volunteer from UT

At the beginning of this semester, I was aware of the nation’s obsession with going green, but I had no idea there were “reuse centers” dedicated to the cause. In Austin however, there is an organization dedicated to “upcycling,” or reusing someone’s old stuff and making it your own, and last year they were able to keep over 2,000 pounds of material out of landfills. As a student volunteer working on a video project for my Public Relations Techniques class at the University of Texas at Austin, I’ve spent the past semester working with Austin Creative Reuse, a nonprofit whose mission is to foster conservation and reuse by encouraging creativity, providing a convenient place to donate or purchase old materials and hosting events that promote sustainability in the Austin community.    UT_Crenwelge

Two months ago, I walked into Austin Creative Reuse not knowing what to expect. The center was closed, but there were volunteers dropping off and sorting items, trying to get things ready for the “soft” opening later that month. I could immediately tell they were excited to see such young blood walk in the door, and were curious as to why five college students turned up on a Friday morning. Since that morning in early September, both the Austin Creative Reuse storefront and my knowledge of what a reuse center is, have grown.

Austin Creative Reuse is in a period of expansion, and I’ve witnessed it first hand. The first time we stopped by the nonprofit to meet with two of its board members, Rebecca and Carol, they were still moving shelves into the back for storage (and they were very excited when we offered to help them out). The most recent visit we made saw the store brimming with new and exciting details – and they had just hung their sign on the front of their building. As a result of all of these small steps, the final product of the video my team is making will have the advantage of showing the growth of the ACR center leading up to the grand opening in early 2016.  UT_Crenwelge2

Austin Creative Reuse is striving to attract younger volunteers, and it’s a great organization to get involved with if you’re passionate about sustainability. It’s also a great resource for college students who are in need of creative tools and materials, or are just looking for an affordable way to make Pinterest worthy crafts.

Watch the Video created by UT Student Volunteers