Opening Saturday September 26

Posted on 23. Sep, 2015 by in Events, History of ACR


Grab your creative juices and come visit us at the Austin Creative Reuse Center.

The first section of the center will open Saturday, September 26 from 10am – 2pm.

From then on, the center will be open every Thursday night from 6pm-8pm and every Saturday from 10am-2pm.

We’ll be extending hours and adding sections to the center over the next few months.  Please be patient with us as we continue to work through our processes and the pricing of the materials.

Our first workshop will be a cape making activity on Saturday, October 31.  We’ll be posting more details in the coming week.


A big thank you to all of the volunteers that have assisted in setting up the center.  There have been many wonderful individuals showing up weekly and several one day events with groups from Little Helping Hands, Americorps and eBay (United Way Fall Day of Caring).


What do you mean by sections?

We currently have the front space open to customers. It is filled with lots of unique and special items including beads, buttons, fabric, markers, canvases and decorative tile. We’ve added some items like corks and paint chip samples to that area for now.

We will be adding additional sections that are focused more on bulk quantities of items like cork, cd cases, small containers, and carpet squares.  We’ll also be setting up workshop spaces for adults and children.  And we would also like to incorporate a gallery and consignment areas.

What types of materials can I donate?

We accept a variety of materials. Please review our materials donation list for details.

I have materials to donate, when can I bring them to the center?

You may bring donations during open hours.

How can I volunteer?

We will need volunteers more than ever now that we have a center to take in more materials. We are planning volunteer events to assist with the setup of the center and to sort materials.  We’ll post these on our events calendar.  A great way to be notified of the events and our volunteer opportunities is to sign up for our volunteer newsletter.




The ACR Pricing Philosophy – Nothing is Free

Posted on 10. Sep, 2015 by in History of ACR, What Can I Do With...

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.

Where Do We Get All Our Fabulous Materials?

Posted on 26. Aug, 2015 by in Examples of Reuse, Material Collection, Material Donation, What Can I Do With...

      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

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Special Volunteer Needs

Posted on 19. Aug, 2015 by in Volunteer


Haven’t had time to volunteer at the center? or maybe sorting isn’t your thing.

We have several activities that could use your help.


Do you like to create? We need Signmakers.

Join a group to help make signs for inside the Creative Reuse Center.

Contact Leslie (Lesliehall @  if you are interested.


E-Newsletters your thing? We need someone to assist us with creating our e-newsletters.

We need assistance with setting up and sending out our monthly and weekly e-newsletters.

Contact Rebecca (Rebecca @  if you are interested.


Are you a map genius, like to write directions? We need someone to write up how to get to the center.

We want to make it easy for Austinites or Tourists driving, biking, skateboarding, taking the bus or train and even walking to have a clear idea on how to get to the center.

Contact Rebecca (Rebecca @  if you are interested.


Database guru? We need assistance in implementing a CRM system.

We would like to get a better handle on our contacts and would like to implement a CRM system.

Contact Rebecca (Rebecca @  if you are interested.


Editor extraordinaire with a sense of humor? We need assistance with editing and formatting documents.

We have a draft of our volunteer and employee handbooks and would like someone to assist in editing and enhancing the content.

We also have documents that need to be edited and formatted.   These documents will help us be clear in our processes and procedures at the center.

Contact Rebecca (Rebecca @  if you are interested.



Sorting, Making Lists and Installing Baseboards

Posted on 19. Aug, 2015 by in History of ACR

The center setup is progressing step by step. We have moved to the next level of sorting of items and will start to price materials soon.  It’s always fun to see what materials have been donated. (more info on donating materials)  A local artist, Shiree S. has started to install baseboards using donated tile, isn’t it beautiful!




Seeking Fall Interns

Posted on 14. Aug, 2015 by in Volunteer



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 and offer help and guidance where needed.

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




If We Build it, They will Come!

Posted on 13. Aug, 2015 by in Events, History of ACR

We’ve had a very productive and enjoyable few weeks as we build out the center.  We added some great display fixtures from a local design warehouse closeout and have started working with  an interior designer and a decor specialist to create a long term plan for the design of the space.

We’ve started the next levels of sorting of the materials going from basic category piles to grouping items into bins. We have set up our recycling area and have started weighing outgoing materials.  A local artist is installing our baseboards created from donated tiles and a decor specialist created some new display fixtures for us.

We are so grateful for the volunteers that are helping make this possible.

To continue to build out the space and to run the center, we have some items that we need. We’ve been scanning Craig’s list and other options but would appreciate any assistance you can give to help us get these items.  Please check out our wishlist to see if you have an item that matches.


considering diapers

Posted on 05. Aug, 2015 by in What Can I Do With...

My husband and I recently had our first child, a gorgeous and giant-cheeked little girl named Annie. Sleep routines still occupy most of our child-rearing mental space, but we spend the majority of her awake time managing fluids. The inputs—nursing, pumping, practicing with a bottle—occupy hours of every day, and every 15 minutes finds us sopping up some emission with one of several absorbent materials.

Being kind of a hippie, I have been troubled by the thought of sending Annie’s 10 daily diapers to sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. We Americans threw away 3.5 million tons of disposable diapers in 2012,* and I don’t particularly want 5-10,000 of those to be Annie’s. Nine months pregnant, when no one can refuse you anything, I dragged my husband Bryan to a cloth diapering class at our frou-frou neighborhood baby store, where he endured a store-cat-provoked allergy attack so we could learn about all the new-fangled cloth diapering technology. It’s come a long way from prefolds and pins, let’s just say. We’d talked about how having children might renew our passion for long-held but imperfectly-practiced principles, and environmentalism is high on that list for me, so I’d been determined to at least give cloth diapers the old college try. Learning about our options was the first step.

The bar is high for entry, though: you want at least 15 diapers to get through a day with margin for error, and good, easy-to-use ones run $25 or more apiece. Sticking with it saves a lot of money in the long run—at 25 cents a diaper, a couple years of Pampers would cost us nearly 2 grand—but it’s hard to give cloth diapering a casual try without dropping hundreds of dollars. Enter Sophie, Auntie Extraordinaire, who offered us a complete set of thrice-used but still in great shape Fuzzibunz pocket diapers. She even delivered them to our door. No excuses left.

Cloth diapers: maybe worth it.

Cloth diapers: probably worth it.

Four days in, here’s my assessment. The diapers themselves are bulkier than disposables and more obtrusive under snug onesies. On the other hand, they’re cute bottoms in themselves and lend themselves better to wearing with shirts or dresses. We’ve had no problems with leaking or blowing out—or at least nothing worse than with our favorite disposables. Changing her takes a tiny bit more effort: because the diapers are not quite as absorbent, poops require a little more mopping up, and fastening four snaps takes perhaps 3 seconds longer than two bits of tape. But the difference is negligible. When we have gone out, we’ve just brought along disposables so we don’t have to mess with carrying dirty diapers home—I feel no compulsion whatsoever to be a purest about this and use cloth 100% of the time. The biggest hassle, unsurprisingly, is that cloth diapering requires doing an extra load of laundry every day or so, and 5 minutes of reassembling the shells and soaker pads afterward. 

Overall, it’s a much smaller sacrifice than I feared it would be. Granted, she is not eating solid food yet, so there is no poop-removal step, but between the sprayers and liners now available I don’t anticipate that being much worse than mopping off her butt.

So cloth diapers are not much trouble, and they’re cheaper than disposables if you use them for even 6 months (and vastly cheaper if you use the same set for a second kid). But as I looked into it, counterintuitively, it’s not actually so clear that they’re a slam dunk for the environment. The best comparison I could find was a 2008 update to a UK study quantifying impacts of the entire lifecycles of disposable vs. cloth diapers (British-ly called nappies). Title: An updated lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies.** They figured in absolutely everything they could: “For example, polymer materials used in disposable nappies were linked to the impacts associated with crude oil extraction and the flows associated with the fluff pulp used in disposables were traced back to paper and forest growth. For cloth nappies, the flows were traced back to cotton growth and production. All transport steps have been included.”

I mean, how fun is that? A slight career-path turn after public policy school and I would be writing this stuff.

The study concluded that when you factor everything in, there’s just not a big difference in environmental impact between disposable diapers and cloth, at least the way they’re most commonly used. Who would have guessed? However, built into that are a lot of assumptions that don’t necessarily apply to our situation, and a lot of detail about how specific choices and practices can lower the impact of cloth diapers quite a bit, making them an unequivocal better choice. For example, if you reuse a set for a second kid, you amortize the big impact of manufacturing and transporting the cloth diapers to begin with. Using a high-efficiency washer reduced total impact by 9% in the study. (And washers have gotten better since then—our model uses about two-thirds of the energy and three-quarters of the water per load than do the best-performing washers in the study.) Tumble-drying every load, on the other hand, increases emissions by 43% (dryers are awful, wow!). The combination of reusing diapers for a second child, washing in fuller loads, and line-drying reduces total carbon impact by 40%, making cloth a clearly better choice.

It’s worth mentioning that a lot of the specific assumptions in the study aren’t quite right for us. The energy and water use of washer/dryers, for one, but also things like the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity in the first place. I wasn’t quite crazy enough to look up how our Austin Energy mix differs from the 2006 UK average used in the study, but it certainly isn’t the same. Regardless, there is plenty of information to conclude with some confidence that, given Annie is the fourth user of this diaper set, and that our appliances are top-notch, cloth diapers are hands down the better environmental choice, probably by quite a bit.

Annie, contemplating the carbon footprint of her diaper.

Annie, contemplating the carbon footprint of her diaper.

But maybe the more important question is whether choosing reusable diapers is how we, Leslie and Bryan, American consumers, can make a meaningful difference. 3.5 million tons/year sounds like a, pardon me, poop-load of disposable diapers, but it’s less than 2% of everything we send to the landfills. We Americans throw away almost 9 million tons of clothing and shoes—clothing and shoes!* Let’s do a little more creative reuse and work on that number. Or step up the composting to cut down on the 50 million tons of food and yard waste we send, which get packed so tightly in landfills that they don’t degrade much better than a plastic bag.*** Or how about this fun fact: the total carbon impact calculated for diapering your kid in disposables in that UK study is about 550kg. That is almost precisely the same footprint as my seat on the 3000-air-mile roundtrip flight I took this summer from Austin to SFO.****

I suspect that the real reason diapers trouble me is simply because they’re a new thing to throw away. The vast majority of my waste and profligate energy use I have long since gotten used to, and any outrage I may have felt about it is too stale to motivate much action. In the long run, perhaps the best thing the cloth diapering debate will accomplish is provoking us to buy carbon offsets for our plane travel.

Resolution: A few days after I originally wrote this, we did indeed buy some carbon offsets. Here’s a quick overview if you’re curious. An important thing to look for if you’re purchasing them is for a credible certification that the projects they support are delivering what they promise and would not have happened otherwise. Green-e seems to be the most common and well-regarded. I used one of several good calculators to figure our transportation emissions and bought offsets for 2 tons/month from Terrapass, for about $12/month. Like most offsets, the majority of the projects they support capture methane—a really bad emission—from landfills and burn it off as CO₂—a not-quite-as-bad emission. Still worse than not polluting in the first place, but at least does some quantifiable good. I also went into our Austin Energy account and switched us to their Green Choice program, which charges an extra .75 cents/kWh (about $5-10/month for us) to supply our electricity from 100% wind sources. This program has been around forever, and I’m a little embarrassed we weren’t already signed up.


* — See tables 1 and 2 for food/yard waste; tables 15 and 16 for diapers and clothing/shoes. Figures I mention for clothing/shoes and food/yard waste are the total tons sent to landfills minus what’s recovered.

**The original 2005 study is an even bigger hoot, including no fewer than 12 tables on children’s urine and feces production. Yes, this is what I read on maternity leave; somebody get me back to the office already.

***Here’s a nice little fact sheet on landfills from presumably-trustworthy academics. The slow degradation of waste is why paying 3-4x as much for diapers that advertise biodegradable or even fully compostable materials is pretty useless, unless you also pay for a service that will pick them up and compost them.

****3000 air miles times .185 kg/mile, the lowest estimate of carbon output per passenger mile, is 555kg of carbon.

I’m Focusing on Reusing This Week

Posted on 03. Aug, 2015 by in Examples of Reuse, History of ACR, Uncategorized, Volunteer, What Can I Do With...

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.

Setup has started!

Posted on 29. Jul, 2015 by in Events, History of ACR, Volunteer

Thank you to all the volunteers that have showed up to help us start the setup of the center. We assembled shelves, built containers and moved in materials.

We’ll continue to have volunteer events on Saturdays and other week nights. Please check out our events calendar and join us!