Author Archives: Jen Mack

Sorting, Making Lists and Installing Baseboards

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



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!

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

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.

Setup has started!

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!

We signed a lease!


We couldn’t have done it without you!  Austin Creative Reuse is proud to announce the signing of a lease for our first brick and mortar creative reuse center!

Thanks so much for your support, and we hope to see you soon at our reuse center in The Linc shopping center (formerly Lincoln Village) at  6406 N IH35 ,#1801, Austin, TX 78752map_store

Our vision for the center involves:

  •  Workshops where people can learn how to give new life to commonly discarded items.
  • Store space where the community can shop for supplies to create their reuse masterpieces and get inspired by interesting materials.
  • A gallery space that features exhibits showcasing works made with reclaimed materials.

We’ll be doing some light renovation like painting, shelf-building and other small projects to spruce up our new space.  Watch for volunteer opportunities in our upcoming newsletters!


When will you open up?

We do not have a date set yet for opening the store. We will have a “soft opening” soon and a Grand Opening later this fall.  This will give us some time to get the store organized and to train volunteers. We’ll continue to provide updates with our progress and will post a date of opening as soon as the center is ready.

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?

We will be posting the days and hours that the center will be open for donations soon. Meanwhile, please contact us if you have donations that need to find a home quickly.

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 store 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.

How did you select the location?

Our criteria for our new space was first based on cost and size; we worked with our real estate brokers to locate sites all across Austin that fit those parameters. We then used an evaluation tool that included criteria like the amount of parking, safety, and access to public transportation to select sites to visit. We looked at several properties and the Linc proved to be the best location for the first center.  It was so helpful to have Kristi Svec Simmons and Max McDonald of Aquila Commercial to work with as they guided us through the lease process to ensure that we knew our responsibilities and to find a mutually beneficial agreement with the owners of The Linc.

The Linc has several great occupants now including the Marchesa and Vivo , is the home of the yearly Blue Genie Art Bazaar and coming soon La Chaparrita and Easy Tiger.

We were also excited to be near the innovative campus of  Austin Community College- Highland Campus; an amazing adaptive reuse example.

Thank you!

The Austin Creative Reuse Team!


The search for our first home


Thanks to you and your generous support, we’re actively searching for our first permanent retail and community center space!

We have been visiting available locations and evaluating the options that we think would make a good home for Austin Creative Reuse.

As part of this process we are figuring out all the logistical details of opening the center and making sure that we stay true to our values.  For example, many of the spaces that we have viewed have flooring that has to be replaced or fixed, so we are having discussions about what to do with the floor and who could help us with this.

We are also planning on how to find or build the shelving and containers that we will need and how we will collect materials while we build out the space.  We’ll be needing your help soon to make all this happen.

Thank you again for you continued support and enthusiasm!


Where Austin Creative Reuse is Headed in 2014

Austin Creative Reuse is growing. Hear more about creative reuse in Austin and the future of Austin Creative Reuse.

SXSW is giving creative reuse materials –



SpinFish & SXSW are extending this successful partnership to the SXSW 2015 Trade Show, seeking to divert and donate over 10,000 lbs of event materials. In order to pull this off we need YOUR help!

SpinFish is looking for individuals, artists, organizations (such as nonprofits and school) interested in receiving event leftovers. Current anticipated items include*:

  •      cardboard (large sheets, boxes, tubes)
  •      vinyl banners
  •      foam core
  •      promotional hand outs (brochures, fliers, tchotchkes)
  •      wood pallets
  •      furniture

 *More items to be added as event approaches. Follow SpinFish on Twitter or Facebook for updates.


SpinFish Event Solutions is a waste diversion and rescue service specializing in keeping event leftovers out of the landfill.  Across 3 SXSW sponsored events, SpinFish has diverted more than 12,000 lbs.

And you!

The only requirement about you is that you’re able to come collect materials in the time you specify.


SpinFish will schedule pickup times for

Mar 18 (Wed):  6PM-8PM

Mar 19 (Thurs): 8AM-8PM

Get Involved and Volunteer

Interested in volunteering? Organize leftovers, network with like-minded folks, and get priority picks for yourself/your group!

Shifts will last 4 hours on March 18th & 19th from 8AM to 8PM.


Contact SpinFish Event Solutions to schedule a pick-up or to volunteer.

Stay up with the action! Follow us on Twitter @SpinFish_Inc and like us on Facebook.

Board Meeting February 2015

February 10, 2015 at 7pm
Directors Present: Cindy, Leslie, Kaci, Rebecca, Katy, Angela, Michele, Carole

We’re looking for a rental space!

Thanks to all our collective (that includes you!) hard work during Raise the Roof, we raised enough funds to begin looking for our first permanent rental space! The board is actively reviewing rental properties for our perfect first home.

Amplify Austin

Looking to contribute to Austin Creative Reuse? We’re participating in Amplify Austin on March 5-6pm. Schedule a donation now or come back and donate on March 5th at 6pm.

Thanks to MakeATX for #lasertrash!

We’ve like to give a special shout out to MakeATX #lasertrash! Thanks!

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