Author Archives: Valerie Ruiz

January Volunteer Spotlight: Elisabeth & Sadie Johnson

Elisabeth & Sadie Johnson

What motivates you to volunteer? Sadie and I wanted to do something in our community that gives us connection to Austin as contributors as well as an authentic opportunity to practice life skills. ACR is a great space for both!

Why ACR? Our friend Jen recommended ACR because it’s a creative, open, friendly community. The work is multi-faceted and you can choose ways to volunteer that work for you. We love the arts and we also love the craft world and reuse, so ACR gives us an opportunity to connect to all 3 in up AND low tempo volunteer situations. We can get to know folks and participate in public community events like the Viva la Vida fest, support youth maker projects, or process donations quietly in a small group in a closed or open ACR store front. It’s a really flexible volunteer opportunity. 

How long have you volunteered with ACR? Since June 2019

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why? Both. We love to observe art, make our own, and think about the ways donations can be re-used. It feeds our aesthetic interests as well as our desire to solve problems.

Where else have you/do you volunteer? Liz volunteers at Maplewood Elementary too. Sadie would love to volunteer in more places, but ACR is all she really has time for right now.

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR? People are all really nice and there are so many different kinds of things you can do. You can work quietly and alone with materials, with small groups in quiet and loud settings, and in large or small groups in public settings. Plus we are regularly blown away by people’s collections and creative re-use or re-purpose ideas. Human ingenuity is the best and we get to see it in the old and the young. Volunteering at ACR has helped me see my world a little differently.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?

We came across some old cards from someone’s treasured collection one day while we were sorting donations. They made me laugh. What I loved about the simple act of sorting was the time capsule it provided into a style of humor and a tradition of card-writing that’s been lost over time. But someone will buy these cards and do something funny, beautiful or surprising with them and that’s the beauty of ACR volunteering – it’s work, but there are reminders of beauty and humanity in it.

Thank you so much, Elisabeth & Sadie , for all that you do to help Austin Creative Reuse continue to grow!  Stay tuned to see our next Volunteer Spotlight, and please visit  the Get Involved section of our website if you’re interested in becoming a  volunteer.

January Artist Spotlight: Aren Salazar

Aren Salazar

How did you start doing art?

I’ve been interested in the arts since I could remember. Growing up I was lucky to have parents that let me be creative in some way. As a kid I remember always drawing up outfits in class, which then led me to go to high school that had a fashion design program. I decided to change things up and go to college for photography, as it was something I also loved. But after graduating college and working a boring 9-5 job I noticed my creative drive just went away and decided I needed to do something small that would help me get back in the groove. So after getting a sewing machine back in my hands and visiting ACR for the first time and seeing there was a TON of smaller pieces of fabric that people would donate I realized that could still make something out of those scraps. Resulting in scrunchies!

What is your preferred medium?

This is a though question as I love to work with so many mediums! Right now my preferred medium is fabric for scrunchies. But I also use ACR to find images/ magazines/ books for collages and random beads/ sequins for makeup looks.

What drives your creative spirit these days?

To be quite honest other than the people around me and simply walking into place like ACR I would have to say that the boringness of my job is what drives my creative spirits, haha! It’s really not something that I want to be doing everyday for the rest of my life so it’s been pushing me to be more creative to eventually be able to do something else that’s more creative for a living!

How does reuse play a part in your art?

I strictly only use fabrics that have been donated to ACR to make scrunchies. I only get smaller pieces of fabric so that im helping get rid of scraps and so that there’s only 2-4 scrunchies of each fabric made making them unique!

What compels you to donate to ACR?

I mean what wouldn’t compel anyone to donate to ACR? I do so because you never know what someone else can make with what you think is trash and because it is a place that inspired me to start creating again!

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?

Aside from all of the AWESOME fabrics I’ve found I would have to say my favorite find was a cute yellow thread organizer! And kinda self explanatory on what I did with it..

Where can we find out more about your art?

All of my scrunchies can be found on instagram at @scruncharenscrunch and/or @dancearendance



We are so glad to have you in our community, Aren! Thanks for all you do to help keep Austin looking so fabulous!

December Volunteer Spotlight: Valerie Harrington

Valerie Harrington

What motivates you to volunteer?
I like offering my time to help out and give back to the world. As a bonus, it gives me the chance to meet and get to know people I otherwise most likely wouldn’t meet.

Why ACR?
ACR’s mission to reduce waste and recycle strikes a chord with me. The ACR family members are friendly and truly fun to hang out with whether folding material or arranging shelves or pricing items. It’s obvious that staff, volunteers, and board members want to be involved in continually improving on a meaningful concept that is Austin Creative Reuse.

How long have you volunteered with ACR?
I still feel fairly new, but four months now.

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?
More on the conservation side of things, but I’m creative too and think ACR may give me new inspiration along the way. I hold onto things thinking, this could be useful, not sure how, which leads to stuff, which leads to a need to purge. Find a place that’s dedicated to helping reduce this kind of thing is phenomenal.

Where else have you/do you volunteer?
Meals on Wheels
Shadow Cats (feline sanctuary and community cats)
Old Settler’s Music Festival

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?
Getting to know the other people involved, seeing how they contribute, and just having a fun, satisfying time. Feeling like I’m making a difference, making a little ripple on the ocean.

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?
Before Thanksgiving I wanted to find a Thanksgiving token or decoration to take to a Friendsgiving party. Was hoping for something a little kooky that folks would either love or not-so-much. Right before the party, I found a reasonably priced singing turkey up front at ACR. It was love at first sight. And I was more thrilled when I popped in some batteries and it still worked.

December Artist Spotlight: Faye Holland

How did you start doing art?
When I left my job as an elementary school teacher and became a stay at home mom, I spent any spare time I could find practicing my religion- crafts.  I concentrated on knitting and crocheting, but I also sewed, embroidered, made jewelry, made children’s barrettes and peg dolls, orchestrated tons of craft projects with preschoolers, and even learned how to build dollhouses.  But when an artist friend taught me to do encaustic collage with paper and beeswax, and then another friend taught me the joy of collecting little objects and gluing them onto other objects, I started finding that any time I was making something that wasn’t some sort of a collage, I wished that’s what I was doing instead.  Now I spend the majority of my time making 3d collaged Christmas ornaments and magnets featuring photos of celebrities, using hot glue, fake flowers, beads, and whatever other bright and shiny things I have squirreled away.

What is your preferred medium?
If it’s candy colored and plastic, I want it.  If it’s glittery, I want it.  If it’s vintage, I want it!  But I couldn’t live without hot glue..

What drives your creative spirit these days?
I’m really inspired by all of the materials to be found at Christmas.  Everything is sparkly and colorful and filled with texture- it’s all meant for celebration.  All I see are things I want to arrange and glue onto something!.

How does reuse play a part in your art?
All of the most interesting components of anything I make are thrifted finds, from discarded slices of Barbie’s cakes, to broken vintage wooden ornaments.  I keep the tinsel ribbon from every gift and make things from the ribbon spools too.  I need everyone to keep donating their mardi gras beads to ACR!  I need all of them.  And your bubble wrap too!  I reuse as many packing materials to ship orders as I can..

What compels you to donate to ACR?
I feel guilty about every single thing I throw away.  I am so thankful that ACR takes my old odds and ends so that creative people can give them a new life.  And it’s always fun to be digging through the bins and see something that came from my house..

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
I love finding rick rack and unopened packages of sequins at ACR that had been in someone’s grandma’s stash for 50 years, but my favorite find was the giant bag of vintage plastic flowers and gift bows I stumbled upon in the fill a bucket section.  Those flowers have made it into so many ornaments!  Before that, it was an old all-wood, unfinished dollhouse I got for $25 and restored into a witchy inter-dimensional portal..

Where can we find out more about your art?
You can find my shop A-List Ornaments at and follow me on Instagram @alistornaments .

It is a true gift to have you in our community, Faye! Thanks for all you do to help keep Austin so festive!

November Volunteer Spotlight: Sister Smalley and Sister Barton


What motivates you all to volunteer?  As missionaries for our church we are here to serve people, and community service is a big part of what we do. We love having the opportunity to brighten peoples’ day and help in any way!

Why ACR?   We like volunteering at ACR because we meet so many people, each with a unique background and story. We love the people we volunteer with and the people we volunteer for! We also think ACR is one of the funnest places you could be in Austin, and it makes us happy to be there and to see what kinds of crazy things we find.

How long have you volunteered with ACR?  Sister Smalley has volunteered with ACR for about three months and Sister Barton has been here for about one month, but missionaries for our church have been volunteering with ACR for about a year.

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?  We love the arts aspect! It’s so fun to see the amazing creative ideas people have and the things they are able to create, and we also love finding and buying our own treasures. The conservation aspect is really great too; we love seeing people being conscientious of the earth and its resources. We love that ACR is a mixture of both of these things.

Where else have you/do you volunteer?  We volunteer all over the place as missionaries, but some of the fun places we have served are the San Antonio Food Bank, the Central Texas Food Bank, various assisted living/nursing homes, humane societies, Community First Village, and anyone that we meet that needs help with anything (we do a lot of yard work, helping people move and dishes)!

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?  Our favorite part of volunteering for ACR is meeting different people and learning their stories. We love that everyone is so different and unique, and it makes us happy when we can help other people be happy!

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?  Sister Smalley: One time I was sorting through photographs, and there were dozens of photos of one man in random places around the United States. It was really funny because he was in the same position in every single picture; hands awkwardly hanging at his sides, just standing there with an awkward half-smile on his face. I named the guy Richard and made up stories about him and his adventures.
Sister Barton: I love that seemingly mundane things can bring a lot of happiness and joy to people. One of my favorite things is the fact that so many different items bring back so many random and fun memories from my past and the pasts of others. It is an awesome way to get to know and understand humanity a little bit better.


Thank you so much, Sister Smalley & Sister Barton, for all that you do to help Austin Creative Reuse grow!  Stay tuned to see our next Volunteer Spotlight, and please visit  the Get Involved section of our website if you’re interested in becoming a  volunteer.

November Artist Spotlight: Carmen Rangel

Carmen Rangel

Portrait of @ladivina.latina , local latinx activist, model, and body positive advocate• made from repurposed paint swatch cards from previous murals and from @austincreativereuse

How did you start doing art?
I’ve always been drawn to the arts and creating things. I started playing around with paint in high school just for fun but after that, I chose to take a lot of art courses in college while I was obtaining my Bachelor’s in Communication. I kind of had a light bulb moment when I realized that art is a form of visual communication so I started diving into the world of public art, murals are what spoke to me the most. I learned that public art has the ability to communicate causes or ideas, and it can also connect and beautify a community. The past few years I have just started my journey as a professional artist and can’t wait to see where this path takes me.


What is your preferred medium?
Painting with acrylic is my preferred medium on canvas or murals, but recently I have grown really fond of recycled paper, glass, and ceramic for my new mosaic pieces.


What drives your creative spirit these days? 
Community and representation are the two factors that are really driving my current body of work. Lately, I’ve been trying to add an accessible community engagement element to some of my art simply because I love inspiring and empowering others to create. Examples of that would be pop-up community painting murals and The Mosaic Workshop. As an artist and woman of color, I feel it is my duty to not only diversify the arts through representation but to use my art to share stories of diverse people.


How does reuse play a part in your art?
Anytime I’m creating I try to find ways to incorporate reuse because I love the hunt for “new” materials or finding ways to finally use that item I’ve been collecting for the perfect moment. When I started painting murals I collected paint chip cards from paint stores for color matching swatches but I didn’t want to throw them away so I kept them for years before starting to make collages with them. I am constantly overwhelmed by a large amount of stuff and waste that’s out there so reusing and recycling in my art makes those feelings more manageable. I’m not always able to practice reuse in all my projects but its something that I strive to do whenever I can.


What compels you to donate to ACR?
I try to be really mindful about what I bring into my tiny home so once its served its purpose and I’ve run out of ideas for it I donate to ACR so that someone else has the opportunity to give it a new life. Waste nothing!


Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?
There are so many great finds at ACR. Some of my favorite items include paint chips that I use for my paper collage/mosaic pieces and unique wood items to use as a canvas especially heart-shaped ones that I turn into an Earth because it really shows the impact that places like ACR have on the planet. And for painted or mosaic murals I’ve been able to reuse donated paint and ceramic, and stained glass that I find at ACR. The community mosaic mural “The Grey Ghost” I created with my team at The Mosaic Workshop was created with some ceramics and glass we found at ACR!


Where can we find out more about your art? 
Thanks so much, ACR!
Find me on Instagram @vivalapainter and for community mosaic projects check out @atxmosaicworkshop on IG


It is a true gift to have you in our community! Thanks for all you do to help keep Austin creating!



October Volunteer Spotlight: Tish McKernan

Tish McKernan



What motivates you to volunteer?

While volunteering, I get interact with amazing folks in my local community. I share my talents and skills in numerous ways in the places I volunteer. There are so many wonderful opportunities in ATX to get involved…. anytime we get a chance, our family gives back in terms of resources or volunteer time!

Why ACR?

I’ve enjoyed visiting, volunteering, and attending workshops at reuse centers all over the US for many years….. When we moved to Austin in 2011, I eagerly watched the beginnings of ACR and couldn’t wait to support their efforts! I love the way ACR educates the community (individuals and businesses) to recycle, reuse and re-purpose those things in their daily lives….so much opportunity in this area!

How long have you volunteered with ACR?

I am going on my 2nd year as a Core Volunteer with ACR!

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?

Both! I am a mixed media, textiles/collage loving artist who finds so much inspiration amongst the treasures at ACR. I am also thankful for a place where I can donate items I no longer need that will be well loved by others. I value ACR’s mission to support educators by offering them inexpensive gently used classroom supplies (rather than buying new) and sharing projects using reuse materials in our local classrooms…

Where else have you/do you volunteer?

My family volunteers with our local school events (band, PTO etc.!) By far our favorite agency to volunteer with is the Central Texas Food Bank as well as their upcoming ATX Empty Bowl Project. We are huge supporters of local agencies advocating for children in Foster Care and encouraging/supporting those who Adopt.

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?

I have to admit I love finding new materials each week to feed my creative pursuits…. ACR is always bustling with excited shoppers. I love asking our customers what items are giving them inspiration or what they plan to use the materials for that they are purchasing…… Getting to pick up donated materials from businesses in our community allows me to share the vision of ACR too!

Do you have any interesting or funny stories about something that happened while you were volunteering at ACR?

Not that I can think of 🙂

Thank you so much, Tish, for all that you do to help Austin Creative Reuse grow!  Stay tuned to see our next Volunteer Spotlight, and please visit  the Get Involved section of our website if you’re interested in becoming a  volunteer.

Austin Reuse Weekend 2019



Love shopping 🛒? And saving money 💰? And protecting the environment 🌎?

Join us for Austin Reuse Weekend from October 18th to October 20th.

All you have to do to participate is donate your unwanted goods to one of the participating organizations/businesses. After donating, you’ll receive a super cool I ❤️Reuse sticker, which you can use to earn discounts when you shop at other reuse businesses and organizations throughout the weekend.


Here’s how it works:
1. Clear out the clutter by donating your old clothes, household items, and even bikes to any of the participating businesses or organizations
2. Receive an “I Love Reuse” sticker
3. That sticker can be as a used a coupon for 20 percent off (or other special offers) when you shop at most participating locations

With Austin Reuse Weekend, you’ll be able to get rid of the things you don’t use anymore and earn a coupon to shop for things that are new-to-you. Now that’s what we call a win, win, win!!

Why is reuse so important?
Austin residents are estimated to dispose of $11 million in reusable items annually. A 2015 study showed that an estimated 6.6 million pounds of textiles are going to the landfill each year from Austin Resource Recovery’s curbside customers. That’s 18,000 pounds of clothes going in the trash every day rather than being reused or recycled!

For a full list of participating locations (and the deals they’re offering) look through the list below:

Mail and More on Brodie – 20% off of shipping from FedEx and UPS
Austin Pets Alive! Thrift – 20% off
Texas Thrift – 30% off
St. Vincent de Paul – 20% off
Austin’s Yellow Bike Project – $5 bike frames
The Salvation Army – 20% off
Austin Creative Reuse – 20% off
Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore – 20% Friday only

Want to learn more about how you can support the local reuse economy year-round? Check out the Austin Reuse Directory at .

Austin Creative Reuse Turned 4 This Year!

Thanks so much for coming out to celebrate with us!! We hope y’all had as much fun as we did at the center Tuesday October 8th!

Big congrats to our raffle winner, Alex! He won two tickets to our next workshop, 2 free Buckets AND a $10 Gift Card to the center! Woot Woot!

What an amazing four years it’s been! On our first Saturday, we just hoped someone (anyone!) would find their way to our “not so easy to find” center. To our delight, 33 of our supporters showed up to shop and celebrate with us. In those first months, we were open to the public six hours a week and averaged a few hundred shoppers per month. Today, we welcome our community 40 hours a week to shop, plus an additional 20 hours to volunteer.
If you have been in the center on a Wednesday or Saturday (or any day it seems), you know we have steadily outgrown our current location. We will soon bring our community a new, bigger, better center complete with expanded shopping and a dedicated workshop/community space. We will offer more programs like Art of Reuse, Craft Nights, Kids Art Workshops and Educator Professional Development.

Look for more details on our move very soon!

We want to send a sincere THANK YOU to our entire community. We can not do this without you!



Job Opening at Austin Creative Reuse

We’re looking for creative enthusiastic people to join our team!

Clerk Position Details here

We review applications on a rolling basis, so it is to your advantage to apply as soon as possible.

We will not consider applications without a cover letter tailored to this position.

Please submit your resume and tailored cover letter online to


2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Hours: Curbside Pickup, 10am-4pm, Daily
Tel: (512) 375-3041