New to Reuse: My First Time at ACR

Guest Blogger: Jim Hampton, Student Volunteer from UT

The first time I stepped foot in the Austin Creative Reuse Center, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Up to that day, I’d only seen the nonprofit’s YouTube channel, which featured ACR events taking place at temporary, borrowed spaces: a classroom, a backyard or a table at a convention. Each video showed volunteers working with a different group, from schoolchildren to conference attendees. Given the breadth of the work that ACR was shown to do as part of a mission to foster conservation through creative and collaborative means, I was interested in what the organization’s home space might look like. I wasn’t disappointed.

Even in its unfinished stages, ACR had created something dazzlingly unique. Everything, from the behind-the-counter signage to storage containers to the lime green bench by the front door, had been built from repurposed materials. My group and I took nearly an hour to browse the unfinished storefront area, looking at the colorful catalog of materials that ACR offered.



Basic materials like fabric and spray paint shared the shelves with doorknobs, vintage photographs, old maps and even used canvases meant to be painted over. The closer we looked at the center, the more ingenuity we found. At the time, it seemed like a miracle that ACR was even able to fit all of these materials in one room.

I’m not a visually artistic person, but it’s difficult to not be inspired by looking at things that ACR volunteers had created as examples. There were boxes made from old record albums, old textbooks with secret compartments, collaged wall decorations, and even a beautiful, medieval-style dress, presumably made with donated fabric and thread, was prominently displayed by the register. Stepping foot inside ACR’s center made me want to explore, to build and to work with the nonprofit, and I suspect that’s one of the main reasons my group and I are trusted to publicize the new space by creating a promotional video.
My understanding of Austin Creative Reuse’s mission fully took shape after visiting the community center. This is an important first step for them. ACR isn’t opening a base of operations for themselves, they’re opening a source of inspiration for the city, and it won’t stop there. I’m proud to be involved, even in a small role, at such a pivotal point in time.

Watch the Video created by UT Student Volunteers



Seeking Spring Interns


Do you have a passion for art, reuse or the environment? Do you want to learn more about start-ups and how to create a business?

About the Internship

Austin Creative Reuse (ACR) is seeking interns to work 10-20 hours per week.

We are looking for individuals who are ready to use their creativity, enthusiasm and skills to help move Austin Creative Reuse forward.

This is an unpaid internship but can count towards school credit and is a great resume builder and opportunity to gain valuable experience.

You’ll have the chance to see what it takes for a non-profit organization to go from an idea on paper to a sustainable community organization!

We offer super-flexible hours seven days a week. You will be able to work at the ACR Creative Reuse Center as well as remotely. We’ll have regular in-person meetings to check in.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Enhance sustainability policy and coordinate efforts to apply for Austin Green Business Leaders Program
  • Coordinate and create digital marketing content and execute campaigns
  • Conduct outreach initiatives to local businesses
  • Create internal and external communications that excite audiences about Austin Creative Reuse
  • Support operations by tracking and analyzing key performance metrics.
  • Create and implement a photography and/or graphics plan
  • Implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool


  •     Well-organized and detail-oriented.
  •     Strong written, oral, and visual communication skills.
  •     Able to work both independently and as part of a team.
  •     Familiarity working with Google Drive, Trello or other task management tools.

Required: You must be located in the Austin area.

About Austin Creative Reuse

Austin Creative Reuse is a nonprofit organization that collects, sells, and distributes donated reusable materials. We’re giving materials a second life!

How to apply

Email your cover letter and resume to

Green New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year has finally arrived after a long 2015 and many people are kicking off the 2016 with their New Year’s Resolutions. Whether it be hitting the gym or reading a book a week, everyone will be trying to improve their lives. But what about the environment? There are many things you can start to do this year in order to protect the environment such as volunteering at a creek clean up or riding a bike. So, if you’re still thinking about your list, consider these environmentally friendly resolutions to start off the new year. 

Now, I have always been inclined to do anything eco-friendly, but there are little things that slip my mind that can have major effects on the environment such as using paper towels. So, for New Year I’m going to put more effort into considering my actions and try to lower my carbon footprint.  

This New Year I will go green by vowing to…

1. Go paper towel-less.

According to the Paperless Project, Americans use over 13 billion pounds of paper towels each year. Keep in mind that paper towels are not recyclable. In order to cut down on paper towels, use dish and hand towels and cloth napkins in your kitchen. If you’re always out and about, put a couple in your bag to dry your hands in public restrooms. You can buy them or even make them out of old bed sheets!


2. Remember to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store.

Back in 2013, the City of Austin implemented the plastic bag ban in an effort to protect the environment. Two years have passed, but I always forget to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store. If you’re like me and forget to bring your bags, leave a couple of bags in your car or place them on your front door handle as a reminder to bring them before you leave your home. You can also opt out of using bags when shopping for things other than groceries.

3. Pack my own lunch instead of buying.

I either forget to pack a lunch or am just lazy and I end up purchasing over-priced lunches on campus. There are a lot of benefits by bringing your own lunch to school or work. You have more choices and most of the time it’s healthier and overall cheaper. Additionally, by using reusable tupperware or glass jars, less waste will end up in the landfill.


4. Clean out my closet and donate my clothes.

I have to admit, I love to shop for new clothes. Over the years, I’ve accumulated so much that my closet is now overflowing with outfits I barely wear. It’s unbelievable that 13.3 tons of textiles were discarded (EPA). Therefore, it’s better to donate as much gently worn clothes as possible to not only make room in my closet but to allow others to wear.

So what are you waiting for? 2016 has just begun and it’s not too late to revise your list of New Year’s Resolutions with eco-friendly goals. These are just suggestions and of course there are other ways to help the environment that you can add to your New Year’s Resolutions. Just remember to think about what attainable for you. For instance, I personally, wanted to add these goals to my resolution list because they are feasible especially for a college student like me and will be easy to continue throughout my life.

What are your green resolutions for the New Year?

What Can I Do with Wrapping Paper?

The holiday season is wrapping up (no pun intended) and your home is probably filled with crinkled and torn wrapping paper. As a kid, I thought  it was silly to open my presents neatly in order to save the gift wrap. Now that I’m older, I completely understand the reasoning behind that sentiment and I catch myself opening gifts slowly as to not rip the wrapping paper into pieces in hopes of reusing the wrapping later. Reusing gift wrap will not only save money, but less waste will end up in the landfill. According to Use Less Stuff, the U.S. accumulates 4 million tons of gift wrap and shopping bags during the holiday season. A bunch of that gift wrap can be either recycled or reused. If you are wondering what you can do to reduce the amount of gift wrap that end up in the landfill, think about different ways you can reuse them.


If you want to save the wrapping paper for another gift, you can iron out wrinkles to make the wrapping paper look brand new. Just set the iron to low and iron away!

However, if the wrapping paper is too torn to be saved you can shred it even more to make festive confetti, decorative packaging material, and comfy bedding for small pets such as rabbits and hamsters.

Is being more creative part of your New Year’s Resolutions? You can start by being creative with used gift wrap. Wrapping paper makes excellent origami paper,  drawer lining, garland, labels, gift bows or even a festive wreath. The list goes on!


Don’t forget that recycling is also an alternative to get rid of wrapping paper. You can place them into your blue recycling cart or drop them off at the City of Austin Recycle & Reuse Drop Off Center. Furthermore, not all wrapping paper is recyclable. If the wrapping paper has glitter or foil throw them into the trash bin or reuse them!

How will you reuse wrapping paper after the holidays?

25 Days of Giving – Day 25

from your friends at the local co. (2)




25 Days of Giving – Day 24

10 Things to do the Day after Christmas


The day after Christmas is generally a day to slow down and breathe. Here’s 10 ideas that won’t involve standing in long lines at a register –

1. Play board games, charades, have a talent show, or a sing-along with family, friends, or neighbors

2.  Look through your holiday cards, wrapping paper, bags, bows, and think about what can be reused or repurposed for next year-for inspiration look at ACR’s previous blog posts or Pinterest page

3.  Go to a museum – LBJ Library, the Blanton, and Bob Bullock will all be open regular hours

4.  Watch classic movies, eat holiday leftovers, and doze on the couch – You’re given official permission

5.  Cruise out to see the Christmas trees on 360

6.  Make s’mores, roast marshmallows, or just hang out by a fire pit.

7.  Explore downtown and/or South Congress – Go ice skating at Whole Foods while you’re in the area.

8.  Decorate a tree for the birds – Find recipes here:     to-decorate-trees-to-help-birds/

9. Go see the Blue Man Group at the Long Center – There are 3 shows on Saturday. A Christmas Carol is also showing at Zach Theater – There are 2 shows, but just a few seats left

10. If you are going to shop, shop ACR – We will be less crowded, less expensive, and way more fun!

Whatever you do, enjoy your day!

25 Days of Giving – Day 23

How to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues by Going Green

Christmas is 2 days away, so here are a few reminders for how to boost your spirits after the holidays by being environmentally friendly.

Hopefully you have already followed some of the “25 Days of Giving” reuse tips and reused some of your holiday items such as old holiday cards and household items for gift wrapping and gift making, etc. so you have already scored points and are looking for more ways to be green .

The resource lists I’ve provided aren’t comprehensive, so my apologies if I’ve left some off.


  1. Recycle your tree.

City of Austin’s got you covered – for curbside residents, it’s as easy as taking your tree out curbside on your usual collection days.


For others, there are 4 days in January you can drop your tree off at Zilker Park. Free mulch is even given in January. More details are here


If you want to spread more cheer with your tree, here are other ideas for reuse


  1. Clean and purge.

After the holidays is a great time to make room by deciding what you no longer use. Here are some reminders for where your discards can go:

  • Clothing  can be donated to: Dress for Success, The Arc of Texas, Goodwill, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Salvation Army,  St.Vincent de Paul, Caritas of Austin, Any Baby Can, and Safe Place.
  • Electronics can be taken to: Austin Resource Recovery, Goodwill, and Z-Tech Global Solutions.
  • Austin Creative Reuse takes a large range of art and craft supplies, fabric and notions, a range of paper products, office supplies, AV equipment, small toys, vintage photos and memorabilia, jewelry supplies, and lots of odds and ends like keys, carpet samples, tile samples, architectural hardware, etc. – if you’re unsure of what we take, check our website for materials we accept or contact us.


  1. Go to or host a swap meet.

Plan a get-together with friends, neighbors, and co-workers where you have a re-gifting party. Add food, drink, crafting, and games for the family and this could be a great time.


If you don’t want to host your own event, check out or for upcoming swap meets or search clothing swaps on facebook to find them in your area.


  1. Make a resolution to stay informed. Austin EcoNetwork is an amazing resource for staying connected to what’s going on with Austin and the environment. They are extremely knowledgeable and work tirelessly to keep the community informed with articles, events,  job postings, eco-directory, etc . Check them out and subscribe to their newsletter at:

Stay tuned for more post holiday reuse tips and blog posts in the next couple of weeks and 2 more days of “25 Days of Giving!


25 Days of Reuse – Day 22

What can I do with… wipes containers

Posted by in Examples of Reuse, What Can I Do With…

Wipes, Wipes, Wipes!

Chalk Box

Ok moms and dads, we’ve all been there. The point when you realize how much time and money you’ve spent buying wipes for your baby. All of those late night runs to the store can really add up and then you’re stuck with all those wipes containers!

I had my own epiphany a few months back when I saw 4 or 5 wipes containers stacked together in my son’s closet. With as much money as I spend on wipes, I had to find a way to get my money’s worth and reuse these boxes. Here are a couple of ideas for how I’m reusing baby wipes containers:

Chalk Box

My son loves the outdoors and he especially loves to draw, so we have tons of outdoor chalk. Wipes containers are perfect for chalk! They can hold a bunch of chalk and can survive whatever Texas weather throws at us from snow and rain to 100 degree temps!

Alphabet Box

Alphabet box

My son is 27 months so we are doing a lot of preschool type activities such as colors, numbers and alphabets. Because I have my own sewing business, I have TONS of scrap fabric sitting around the house. I put two and two together and voila! The alphabet box was born.

Each fabric square is a different color and pattern and contains one iron on letter. My son pulls each fabric square out of the box and says the letter and color. It’s the perfect learning tool and keeps him busy for a while.

Cars (and Small Toys) Box

Car box

Boys love their toys…and cars too! My son has cars everywhere and they range in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Wipes containers are perfect for holding his cars or any other small toys that could cause serious pain when trying to walk around his room at 2am in the dark.

First Aid Kit

First aid box

Wipes containers are the perfect size for a first aid kit. My husband and I each have one in our cars as a “just in case” emergency kit. We would rather be safe than sorry. Contents can include band aids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, antiseptic ointment, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. The possibilities are endless!

There are lots of ways you can creatively reuse wipes boxes to fit your family’s needs. These are just a few ideas and I’m always finding new ways to reuse those containers.

How do you reuse your wipes containers?

25 Days of Giving – Day 21


Another Great Gift Idea…

I read a great article recently where the author talked about 7 reusable things she carried in her purse.  Besides being in awe of the depths of her purse, I was inspired by the thought of carrying these things that would help reduce your environmental footprint a fair amount.

The thought expanded into the idea of assembling this into a holiday (or anytime) gift for a family or individual. I’ll insert a plug to say we have several of these items at Austin Creative Reuse, so please check us out if you should want to pull something like this together.

We even have the make-your-own tote bags (for carrying everything)  that you could either sew yourself or leave as a kit if you knew your recipient had a sewing machine.

I’m following the article’s suggestions to get you started, but you can customize to fit the individual.

Here’s the general list:

  1. Reusable shopping bags – Austinites have this down, but you can get creative with sizes or styles.

2.  A bag to carry produce. Here’s a DIY version you can make from a t-shirt.


3.  A drinking cup or water bottle. We have a nice variety of stainless steel cups in stock at the center. You could also switch it out for a refillable coffee mug.

4.  A litter bag

5.  A container that could be used as a doggie bag. The author had fashioned one using a Tupperware container with a couple of baggies and twist ties. Depending on your budget, you could buy a stainless steel style ( I found this one on, though I would

to go container                  to go

imagine you could find them locally) or a plastic variety, which are readily available.

6.   A cloth hand towel to be used for spills or any clean-up jobs.

7.   A refillable note pad ( with reuse paper) and a refillable pen or marker. This last item comes to mind as we’ve been making them recently at ACR, and I think they’re a very practical thing to have around. You can DIY to make one or buy it for $1.50 at the center.

It’s exciting to think if most people carried and used these items on a daily basis, what a difference it could make in the amount of trash generated.

The last bonus – tie a ribbon on it, no need to gift wrap.  I think it’s an all-around winner of a  gift idea.

25 Days of Giving – Day 20

Ideas for Repurposing Holiday Cards

Holiday Cards are so beautiful and have great sentiments – It’s a mixed bag, it’s sad to pitch them, but they can quickly pile up.  The projects below might give you a reason to hang on to the memories for longer than one season.

For an earth friendly alternative to sending cards, you might consider sending e-cards, especially if you have a long list to send out.

For a special few, however, try making your chirstmas cardscards using reuse materials for that whimsical touch. You can use scrap paper, old Christmas cards, wrapping paper, even old photos to give it a personal touch.





For these or any craft inspirations in the 24 Days of Giving series, please drop a line or send a photo to let us know how they worked for you.