Author Archives: Carole LeClair

What Can I Do with Paper?

As a student, I use paper almost everyday from writing lecture notes on loose leaf paper or in a journal to taking exams in a blue book or on a scantron. Even to just writing simple reminders on sticky-notes or reading a book for fun, I have never realized how much we rely on paper on a day-to-day basis. All of this paper will eventually end up in a recycling bin or in the trash. As of 2012, paper and paperboard contributed 30% of municipal solid waste, making them the largest components (EPA). However, on a better note, it has been estimated that the amount of paper ending up in landfills have been reduced in half (Paper Recycles).

Reducing paper consumption by going digital is a great way to cut back on paper and save trees, but sometimes paper is needed for certain projects. So, instead of going to an office supply store or craft store for paper, head over to Austin Creative Reuse for all your paper needs! There is an abundance of colorful printer paper and decorative scrapbook paper over at the ACR store that you can use for any type of project.

In preparation for Austin Creative Reuse’s paper sale going on from Thursday, April 21, 2016 to Saturday, April 30th  here are creative ways to reuse paper products.

  • Calendars aren’t just meant for keeping track of the date. Once the year is over, just tear apart a calendar and frame your favorite picture to decorate walls with. Calendar sized pictures fit well in record frames.
  • Newspaper can be used multiple times after reading them. They make excellent wrapping paper, but they can also help make windows streak-free. They are also a good source of carbon for compost piles when shredded.
  • When I was a kid, my sister and I created paper dolls and made outfits for them with construction paper. Print out some paper doll templates and dress them up with paper with various prints and designs in shapes of shirts and pants.
  • Personalize greeting cards, stickers, and notepads by picking and choosing different types of paper.

 

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).

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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!

 

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

What Can I Do with Glass Jars?

I was immensely pleased when Austin switched to single stream recycling a few years ago. That meant sorting out the trash was simple and easy. However, when I moved into an apartment I received a list of items that the complex does not recycle and glass happened to be listed. Glass bottles and jars eventually filled up the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink and I would have to take them to Ecology Action’s downtown recycling center (which is now closed, but you can take your recyclables to the City of Austin’s Recycle and Reuse Drop-Off Center at 2514 Business Center Drive, 78744). To make things easier for me and to be environmentally friendly, I learned how versatile glass bottles and jars could be.

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Here are some practical ways I reused glass jars:

When I bought this jar, it was originally filled with kombucha.  Now I use it as a regular drinking glass. If you keep the cap or lid, they make great water bottles when you’re out and about. I suggest washing the jars a few times before drinking out of them especially if they had pasta sauce in it beforehand.

When I bought this jar, it was originally filled with kombucha.Now I use it as a regular drinking glass. If you keep the cap or lid, they make great water bottles when you’re out and about. I suggest washing the jars a few times before drinking out of them especially if they had pasta sauce in it beforehand.

This jar had roasted peppers before I started reusing it to pack my lunches. Don’t put any food that needs to be heated up since it is not recommended to microwave glass jars.

This jar had roasted peppers before I started reusing it to pack my lunches. Don’t put any food that needs to be heated up since it is not recommended to microwave glass jars.

These succulent pots were originally a cookie butter jar, a normal mason jar, and two different sauce jars. Before planting, add rocks at the bottom of the jar since it doesn’t have holes to drain water.

These succulent pots were originally a cookie butter jar, a normal mason jar, and two different sauce jars. Before planting, add rocks at the bottom of the jar since it doesn’t have holes to drain water.

Glass jars make great organizers and help declutter your home. I added candy into a sauce jar, pens and pencils in another, and loose change in a bottle that first had iced coffee.

Glass jars make great organizers and help declutter your home. I added candy into a sauce jar, pens and pencils in another, and loose change in a bottle that first had iced coffee.

These succulent pots were originally a cookie butter jar, a normal mason jar, and two different sauce jars. Before planting, add rocks at the bottom of the jar since it doesn’t have holes to drain water.

 

Bonus: Can you believe that these lego look alikes were baby food jars?!

Bonus: Can you believe that these lego look alikes were baby food jars?!

Glass bottles and jars come in many shapes and sizes, and as you can see they can be reused in countless ways. So before placing them in your recycling bin, wash them up and put them into good use!

How do you reuse glass bottles and  jars?

What Can I Do with Bed Sheets?

Growing up there was a closet in my house that produced an avalanche of bed sheets whenever somebody opened it. That being said, bed sheets are bulky and take up a lot of space when not in use. If you have a similar problem and are wondering what you can do with your old bed sheets, here are some options.

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Blankets and comforters and duvets, oh my! Photo Credit: Toni Red

Donating is a great way to get rid of your bed sheets. By donating to your local charity or thrift store, you will provide others in need with warmth at night. Regrettably, Austin Creative Reuse does not accept bed sheets, but there are other places where you can donate. For instance, Safe Place, an organization that provides safety for those affected by sexual and domestic violence, accepts full and queen sized bed sheets. Organizations dedicated to animal welfare such as Austin! Pets Alive accepts baby blankets for their kitten nursery and the Austin Humane Society accepts blankets without stuffing.

Here is a list of organizations in Austin that will gladly accept gently used blankets:

Donating Pro-Tips:

  • Check for wears and tears
  • Laundry beforehand
  • If they come in a set, put them together

Remember that reuse is also an option. There are a plethora of ways to turn bed sheets into something else. For something simple, you can tear them up and make cleaning rags. They also provide great protection for plants during the winter. You can even turn them into a hammock or a tent! For the creative types, bed sheets can be converted into aprons or skirts. Those are just a few examples, so if you have extra bed sheets lying around, be creative and put them in good use!

 

 

 

Halloween Decoration Ideas

The weather is finally cooling down and Halloween is creeping up on our calendars! Here are some creative ways to haunt your home this fall.

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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.

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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

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I’m Focusing on Reusing This Week

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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.

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2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Center Hours:
Mon-Wed: CLOSED
Thu/Fri: 10AM - 4PM
Sat: 11AM -6PM
Sun: 12PM - 6PM
Curbside Pickup, 10am-4pm, Daily
Tel: (512) 375-3041