Author Archives: Carole LeClair

Take the One Minute Challenge

Do you think about the environment when you’re grocery shopping?

Maybe you buy the bulk container of your favorite snack.  You know, the one that comes in the large plastic tub instead of smaller individually-sized plastic containers (ie. yogurt, nuts, animal crackers). You feel good that you made an environmentally-friendly choice since less material generally goes into larger containers compared to several small containers.

But what happens when the container is empty? Do you dutifully throw it into the recycle bin?
What if you spent one minute thinking about what else you could do with that container first? How can you give it a new life once it’s clean?

Could you store rice or pasta in that large container instead of buying a dedicated pasta storage jar?
Could you store leftover soup in that large yogurt container instead of buying new plasticware?
Maybe your kids’ small toys would fit nicely in the large nuts container.

Please accept our challenge to spend one minute thinking about alternative uses for your used items before you put them in the trash or recycle bin. Even if you don’t have a use for it, save it for Austin Creative Reuse! There are some amazingly creative people in Austin who want your stuff.

 

Austin Creative Reuse Takes a Roadtrip!

We recently found our way to Houston to visit our friends at Texas Art Asylum. These folks have an absolutely awesome space just south of downtown where you can find all sorts of cool, creative, reusable, up-cyclable and “just too good to throw away” stuff!
Besides being treated to a wonder art gallery and “curiosity shop”, we found loads of wonderful art and craft supplies as well as examples of absolute creative reuse genius everywhere. Check out our gallery of photos and if you find yourself in Houston, do yourself a favor and get over to Texas Art Asylum!

 

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How to Organize a Drawer the Creative Reuse Way

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We all have them, and it’s called a Junk Drawer.

Often though, these drawers don’t really contain “junk” but stuff we need, stuff we reuse, stuff that’s small, stuff that’s just too good to throw away. The key is always organization.

Take for instance this sewing/craft drawer. It has its pluses. It’s big, it’s shallow but those things also mean it can get to be a disaster pretty quickly.

Big is great but stuff tends to move around in any direction it wants. Shallow is great too but it also means that most premade drawer organizers won’t fit. Not to mention, there never seems to be the right combination of those little trays. Always just a bit big or a bit small.

One great and reuse minded solution is to just go through your recycling and trash bin. What do you have around that can be manipulated easily into a custom holder. Lots of small trays of varying sizes means everything can have it’s own container.

Sometimes it seems we make the choice, new and shiny or just plain old useful. We’ll take “reuseful” anyday.

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Vinyl Banners and Foam Core – What can be done!

While the average citizen doesn’t generate piles of “dated” vinyl banners and foam core signs, business and event planners do! Groups often turn to us to find a way to humanely redirect these very durable and completely reusable materials. We offer these to schools and arts groups for repurposing. Often one side is blank and can be given new life, usually as a new sign. Big tip here is to make them as versatile as possible by leaving off specific information about day, dates or times. That way the sign can be used again and again.
We came up with a pretty nifty idea the other day when faced with such a pile. At ACR, we often need sturdy storage boxes for all our donations. You will need a sewing machine for this but overall, it’s pretty easy.
Here’s the basic steps.
1. Cut two pieces of vinyl in a rectangular shape, same size.
2. Draw a border around the rectangle. The width of the border will be the height of your box
3. Miter each corner using a sewing machine. Heavy duty needle recommended.
4. At this point you can cut the excess material off the mitered corner.
5. Your “box” probably won’t stand on its own, so cut some foam core the exact size of each of your sides. You want a tight fit.
6. Slip the foam core into the openings at the top of each side.

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You should now have a pretty sturdy box. By removing two of the foam core sides, the box will compress flat. The box we made goes perfectly in the trunk of a car for corralling loose items or grocery bags, but can pack flat when needed.

More pictures and detailed instructions to come later.  Just wanted to get this idea out there now.

What Do I Do With… Toys?

If your child outgrows their toys quickly, don’t throw them away! You can make another child happy by donating them. You can donate used toys to traditional thrift stores and charities, however, due to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), not all thrift stores and charities will be able to accept used toys donations.

Here are some local, alternative places that will accept used toys:

  • Toybrary provides a positive, clean, welcoming environment in which children, parents, and teachers can interact and learn. (7817 Rockwood, Ste 101, Austin, TX 78757)
  • Any Baby Can improves the lives of children by strengthening them and their families through education, therapy and family support services. (6207 Sheridan Avenue Austin, TX 78723)
  • Legacy of Hope is dedicated to serving families of children with special needs. You can call toll free 866-HOPEATX or email them at info@legacyofhopeaustin.org to set up a donation drop-off time.
  • The Stuffed Animal Rescue Foundation is dedicated to the well-being of abandoned, outgrown, or neglected stuffed animals by finding permanent and/or foster homes for rescued stuffed animals. Email them at info@thesnarf.org for more information.
  • Safe Place strives to end sexual and domestic violence. Be sure to check their wish list to see what they need. (1401 Grove Blvd. Austin, TX 78741)

Additionally, Austin Creative Reuse also accepts board games and puzzles!

Here are some helpful tips before donating toys:

  • Wipe toys down
  • Make sure toys are not broken
  • If you are donating toys with multiple pieces/parts, keep them together in plastic bags or tape boxes together so that they don’t get lost

What Do I Do With… Clothing?

Fashion trends change quickly these days. That means people throw away their clothes to make room for more. According to the EPA, the average person throws away 70 lbs. of clothing a year. However, did you know that almost 100% of those clothes can be recycled or reused. The lifetime of an article of clothing can be extended, and thus preventing it from ending up in the landfill. Here are some ways to help you be environmentally friendly by reducing the amount of clothes going to the landfill while cleaning out your closet!

Donating and selling gently used clothing is a great way to keep clothes from going to the landfill. You can sell your clothes in a garage sale or consignment stores such as Buffalo Exchange or donate to charitable organizations such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Here are some local organizations that will also gladly accept clothing donations:

Treasure City Thrift (local thrift store that works toward zero waste) 2142 E. 7th St. Austin, TX 78702

Dress For Success (non profit that promotes economic independence of disadvantaged women) 701 Tillery Street Suite A-5 Austin, TX 78702

The Settlement Home for Children (promotes healing and growth in children, young adults and families) 1600 Payton Gin Road, 78758

Safe Place (strives to end sexual and domestic violence) 1401 Grove Blvd 78741

The Arc of Texas (supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities)

If you’re feeling creative or the clothes have been greatly worn out here are some fun DIY projects you can do to reuse clothing.

1. Keep hold of your belongings in a t-shirt tote bag

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2. Make over old shoes into pretty planters

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3. Alter old jeans into a denim rug

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4. Accessorize your home with a sweater pillow

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5. Change old belts into a chair

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It’s been a busy week @ Austin Creative Reuse!

Seems like spring cleaning! We’ve been busy retrieving lots of great donations from individuals and businesses and we are just a busy sending these materials out into the world to find new life in the hands of some of Austin’s most creative thinkers.

Just this week we visited:
Girl Scouts of Central Texas – Meeting and SWAP Supplies
Montessori for All – Art and Teaching Materials
Capital Area Food Bank – Canvas Event Bags

Girl Scout Donation Drive 2 Girl Scout Donation Drive1 Montessori for All

At ACR we always feel like Reuse makes the world go ’round. Nice to have a chance to give it a little push!

Making 3D stars

Whatcha gonna do with old hanging files that have been hanging around your office for too long?

Well, if you are Austin Creative Reuse, do a bit of cutting, then folding followed by a liberal application of glue and glitter. Wha-la, you have the perfect holiday decoration.

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Check this link for templates (or just make your own) and instructions on folding.
http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/making-christmas-decorations.html

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Great Gift Wrap Ideas for the Reuse-y Types

It’s Holiday Time which means we are thinking about gift wrap this week.  So often, after the big gift exchange, we are overwhelmed with the piles of paper and ribbon, all of which just heads out to the land fill (or to the recycle bin if your lucky).  Why not challenge yourself wrap with an eye for reuse this year.  Here’s some ideas for a Reuse-y Holiday!

  • Use reusable containers like gift bags, holiday tins or sturdy gift boxes.
  • If you received a bag at the store when you purchased the gift, use that paper or plastic to wrap it.
  • Use old scarves, cloth napkins or fabric scraps for an infinitely reusable gift wrap
  • Look for “reuse” gift wrap around your house, such as newspaper, maps, magazines, wallpaper samples, or grocery bags
  • Use yarn or kitchen twine to tie up your package
  • Make gift tags our of cereal boxes or other boxes
  • Any container can become a gift bag just by adding a bow or glueing a bit of holiday paper
  • Make a gift box out of cereal box (Look for our tutorial on how to do it in our treasure box blog post)

And most importantly!

  • After the big unwrap, do not be ashamed to gather up all the gift bags, gift boxes and ribbon to use next year. It’s like giving the earth a big ‘ol gift just from you!

Here’s a small sample of our reuse wrappers.

 

 

Make Way for Christmas Swap Party

Did you happen to see the Statesman today? Anna Hanks, a guest contributor, suggests doing a bit of pre-Christmas cleaning but holding a swap meet with friends.

No gifts, just bring things you are ready to see leave your home, add some drinks and appetizers and you’ve got a great reuse party on your hands. It satisfies that “joy of giving” urge we all get this time of year without our having to waste time, money or the earth’s resources.

Afterward, any unclaimed items can go to any one of the fabulous non-profit thrift stores, like Treasure City Thrift, Top Drawer, Goodwill or Savers.

Sounds like a new holiday tradition in the making.

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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