Blog

Earth Day with ACR: The Difference Between Recycling and Reuse

 

This Earth Day, we want to share the differences between Reuse and Recycling, and why you should always Choose to Reuse! 

 

 

We’ve all heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They have become a phrase synonymous with living a green lifestyle, and many families around the world happily implement the most popular R, recycling, into their daily lives. However, folks out there may not understand the importance of the R we’re all about, reuse, and why it’s always the better choice over recycling. Okay, you got us! Ultimately, the most important of the R’s is reduce. Consuming less reduces the energy and materials expended in the disposal or recycling of an object, but that’s a focus for another day!

 

First, let’s talk about recycling. Recycling refers to the process of turning waste items into new, reusable materials or items. This can be an expensive and difficult process, using large amounts of energy to transport, process, and reassemble recyclable materials. In fact, most of what we recycle isn’t actually turned into usable materials. Sorry if we just burst your recycling bubble!

 

Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA /AFP/Getty Images

 

Don’t despair, there’s another road those materials can take! Rather than recycle them, find a way to reuse them. Reuse means to find another purpose for an item that would have otherwise been thrown away. Examples of this include the buying and selling of used goods, repairing existing items, or incorporating an item into a piece of art. Using an object as it is, without industrial changes, reduces pollution and waste as well as raw materials used. There are lots of existing organizations that embody reuse at the local level, like your favorite thrift shop, Craigslist, or the Buy Nothing Project

 

Another local outlet for materials to get a second chance at life are creative reuse centers. While they may not be present in every community (yet!), these reuse centers encourage us to look at things through a creative lens, inspiring us to transform items into something far removed from their original purpose!

 

An M&M’s bag becomes a purse…to hold all your M&M’s!

 

Bottle caps can become pinwheel flowers to decorate your garden

 

Reuse centers are more efficient than recycling, because they require no industrial processing. For the past thirty years, dozens of creative reuse centers have been thriving in the United States and beyond. Some of the larger centers report diverting over 60,000 lbs of useable materials from the landfill each year, while also being economically viable organizations. Many reuse centers are open to the public, creating affordable and accessible opportunities to all. They’re places where tinkerers, makers, crafters, educators, and the general public can go to explore and get inspired. An up-to-date, comprehensive list of creative reuse centers is difficult to find, but if you do a quick internet search, you may find one near you that you never knew existed!

 

At Austin Creative Reuse, our vision is a community that consciously consumes and chooses reuse as a first choice when evaluating the need for personal or project materials. We believe that through the discovery of the reuse of an object, a person will learn to evaluate use and purchase decisions based on the whole lifecycle of the object. 

 

Now, that we’ve convinced you that reuse is better than recycling, give the Earth a big hug by choosing to reuse and visit your local reuse center today!

 

Using Earth to Make Art: Decoupage Seashells

 

This Earth Day, we are encouraging you to use your surroundings to make art. Here’s an easy tutorial to turn natural shells into decorative trinket bowls for your home, office, classroom, or shop!

 

 

Supplies:
  • Seashells
  • Tissue paper or printed napkins
  • White paint
  • Metallic paint
  • Mod Podge (or diluted Elmer’s glue)
  • Paintbrushes

 

Instructions:

 

Step 1

Use the white paint to cover any dark spots on the inside of the seashell. Let dry. Add as many coats as necessary.

 

Step 2

Lay the tissue paper on the inside of the seashell, and glue the paper to the shell by painting diluted glue on top. Rip off the excess tissue paper. Let dry.

 

Step 3

Use the metallic paint to cover up the edges of the shell and to give the tissue paper a nice finish.

 

Step 4

Use as a trinket bowl for your rings, keys, or knick knacks. Makers can also use these as a container or presentation for their goods.

 

Happy Earth Day from Austin Creative Reuse!

Sustainability Spotlight: TreeFolks

 

In the aftermath of the freeze that affected the entire state of Texas earlier this year, many of our trees and plant life struggled or failed to survive. There is one organization in Austin that is helping us grow back – TreeFolks. TreeFolks is a local nonprofit that was founded in 1989. Since then, they have planted thousands of trees throughout the Central Texas area. We reached out to learn more about their organization and their mission. Read more below about our conversation with TreeFolks Communications & Marketing Manager, Victoria Bloom.

 

What is the mission of your organization?

TreeFolks’ mission is to empower Central Texans to build stronger communities through planting and caring for trees.

 

What environmental issues does your organization address?

Trees are beneficial in many ways! We tackle a few different environmental issues including reforesting floodplains to build a diverse canopy that filters air and water while also slowing erosion and creating wildlife habitat. We provide free trees to Austin residents in order to equitably build the tree canopy while combatting the urban heat island effect and providing shade to Austin’s neighborhoods. We are also engaging the community to help us plant 1 million more trees in Austin to combat climate change and renew the canopy through our Keep Austin Rooted initiative.

 

What eco-friendly initiatives does your organization uphold?

We uphold the vision of a thriving tree canopy in Central Texas. TreeFolks focuses on planting and providing only native or native adapted trees that will help the ecosystem thrive. Additionally, we hope to engage the communities of Central Texas in effective climate action through planting trees and learning about trees.

 

How do you hope to make an impact on the Austin community or the world at large?

We hope to educate the community on the importance of the urban forest and tree care while providing the benefits of trees to every Central Texan.

 

Where can we find out more about your organization?

Follow us on social media @treefolks or visit our website www.treefolks.org

 

If trees around your home or neighborhood have been affected by the recent freeze, visit www.treefolks.org to see if you qualify for one of their community programs. You can also read this article to learn more about your damaged trees. Support TreeFolks by purchasing the official Keep Austin Rooted Roast coffee from Mozarts – from April 15th until April 21st, Mozarts will donate $7 to TreeFolks for every bag sold!

 

Happy Earth Day!

Artist Spotlight: Christine Terrell

 

Each month, we highlight one of the many individuals in Austin’s Creative Community. This month, it’s reuse artist Christine Terrell! Christine’s main medium is repurposing tins into gorgeous jewelry pieces. Ready more about her and her work below!

 

How did you start creating art?

I went to school for graphic design and worked in the field in New York City and then in Austin for nearly a dozen years before I got restless and a bit tired of the corporate design game. I decided to go back to school at Austin Community College for welding and blacksmithing. I fell in love immediately. The program was fantastic—great professors, excellent facilities and an open and welcoming group of students. About a year into that I got pregnant with my first child. I really wanted to stay in the program, but all of my professors were like, “Ah, no. We have no idea whether it’s safe to weld while you’re pregnant. There are no studies. Go home.” Fast forward a few years to when I came out of the fog of learning how to manage with a new baby. I really wanted (needed!) to get back to making. Welding in my garage wasn’t an option, but it was about that time when I came across the book, The Fine Art of the Tin Can. I immediately saw that working with tin might be the perfect way to bring together my professional training, my new love of messing with metal with my longtime passion for thrifting. Playing around with some ideas from the book with my first couple of thrifted tins sealed the deal for me.

 

What is your preferred medium? 

The core of my business is focused on transforming vintage and contemporary tins into jewelry. I think it’s important, however, for creatives to play around with all sorts of materials because it always informs and inspires new ideas in your main medium. The other non-tin media I am drawn back to most frequently are paper collage and gelatin printmaking. Both are endlessly fascinating in their own rights.

 

How does reuse play a part in your art?

I grew up in a family of frugal Yankees. We completely lived by the mantra: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. I took this worldview to heart and have continued the practice throughout my life—making it no surprise that I named my business adaptive reuse. Since pretty much the beginning of time, jewelry has mostly been made from precious, virgin materials that are sourced from extractive processes. But working with expensive, precious things held no appeal for me. Figuring out I could use locally sourced, upcycled tins and non-precious, recyclable materials like steel fit my sensibilities perfectly.

 

How has your art adapted during the pandemic?

I feel incredibly fortunate to have had my art practice during this pandemic. Being able to make something by hand from start to finish is a really important process that I believe helps to regulate our brains and nervous systems. Since my art practice is also my business, I have continued to make pretty much like before the world turned upside down. My business has tapered off a bit, but there seems to be a continued desire for people to own things made by hand. I haven’t really had to adapt my art too much so far, but I’ve been practicing long enough to know to never get too comfortable! 

 

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

Oh my word. There are almost too many to even consider. A couple that come to mind: An entire Braille dictionary. The quality of the beautiful ivory paper with all that raised texture was pretty thrilling to a paper lover. I’ve used some of it in collages and I have gifted a bunch to other collage artists. Last week at ACR I scored the coolest tin pail with a gorgeous rainbow colored tie dye pattern and I just made my first pair of groovy earrings from it this morning.

 

Where can we find out more about your art?

All my crazy creations can be found on my website at adaptivereuser.com and I send 6 Good Things every other Friday to folx on my list. I try to keep up with IG @christineterrell and I’m mostly avoiding FB at the moment! If you’re in Austin, I have a bunch of work at my favorite SoCo spot: Parts & Labour.  I am also excited to be part of the Blue Genie Art Bazaar again this year, so I’ll have a ton of work there as well. 

 

 

Call for Market Vendors!

In December of last year, Austin Creative Reuse held its first Outdoor Reuse Market. Despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market was such a huge success that we’ve decided to make it a regular event! Our first market had over 30 reuse artists participating and we welcomed over 200 shoppers over the weekend. Help us make the next one even bigger by applying to be a vendor today!

Read more info here:

Market One Pager

The next market will take place Saturday, June 26th and Sunday, June 27th. Application deadline to be considered as a vendor for this market is Saturday, May 15th.


 

Make: DIY Doll Head Planters

Make a Doll Head Planter!

Make it Halloween year round with this creepy-but-cute Doll Head Planter tutorial by our Online Store Coordinator, Bianca! Super simple to make, grab a kit from ShopACR.org with everything you need to make your new doll-head friend!

 

 

Supplies:
  • One doll head
  • Paint brushes
  • Polymer clay
  • Paint

 

 

Instructions:

Step One – With the clay, roll some clay to where it stretches about 3 1/2″ and about 1/4″ or more thick to pose as a base. Then with more clay, make two small balls and press it to flatten it, about 1/2″ diameter. (Apply a tiny dash of olive oil to help soften the clay if it’s too hard.)

Make a tube of clay for the base, and flatten two balls of clay for the eyes

Tip: add olive oil to soften the clay

 

 

Step Two – Wrap the rolled clay around the neck of the doll head, adjust as needed. Then place the flatten circles inside the head where the eyes are and press until secured.

Wrap clay tube around neck, place flattened circles on the inside of the eyes

 

 

Step Three – Set your oven to 250-275 degrees and let the doll head bake for about 5-8 minutes or until the clay hardens.

 

 

Step Four – Paint! 

 

 

Step Five – Add two or three pebbles to the bottom of your new planter (optional) to prevent soil spilling out and then add soil as well as your favorite plant.

 

 

April Reuse and Rethink: Easter Eggs!

Now that Easter has come and gone, what can you do with all those plastic eggs used for the hunt? This month, we challenge you to rethink plastic easter eggs and transform them into something completely new! You could create a wall hanging, creepy creature, or a flower bouquet. The possibilities are endless – show us what you’ve got!

Guidelines:
  • Materials must be reused
  • The submissions will be judged on three qualities: creativity, workmanship, & use of reused materials
  • Submissions must be made on or before the deadline

Submission:

When you’ve completed your creation, please provide at least 2 photos of your art piece, your contact info, and a short description of materials used. You can also send any social media handles you’d like us to tag if you are selected as the winner. Your submission can be made in person at our center or in an email to rethink@austincreativereuse.org

Prize:

One winner will be selected and they will receive a $10 e-Gift Card to ACR. We’ll also share their creation on our social media channels!

Deadline to submit: Friday, April 30th, 2021
Check out our Pinterest for reuse inspiration.

March Reuse and Rethink Winner: Erin B!

This month for our Reuse & Rethink Contest, we asked you to show us your best Reuse in the Yard! We’re pleased to announce this month’s winner is Erin Boyle! Erin used an old helmet as a planter, and was so inspired by the idea that she reached out to her local Buy Nothing group for more old helmets to use as a planter!
 
 
 
Here’s what our judges had to say:
 
“This is a very creative and unexpected use of helmets. The entire idea and execution are amazing. The thought to make planters out of helmets is what put this on top for me.”
 
“I think this is great all across the board. I love that she reached out to her gardening group to source more helmets to divert. You can tell she thought through the functionality with trying to prevent water damage.”
 
Congrats, Erin! And as always, thank you to everyone who participated in this month’s contest. Your creativity always inspires us!
 

Staff Spotlight: Bianca Fuentes

Bianca Fuentes (& pup!)

 

Each month, we feature one of the incredible staff members who help make the magic happen at ACR. This month, it’s Shift Lead and Online Store Coordinator, Bianca Fuentes! Bianca started out as a core volunteer when we were located at the Linc. She was hired on as staff just before our big move and was quickly promoted to a Shift Lead. Something you may not know is that Bianca is the face behind our online store! She ensures a good variety of items are posted each day, orders are fulfilled correctly, and that the inventory stays organized. Read more about Bianca below and see her tutorial for a Doll Head Planter!

 

How did you find Austin Creative Reuse?

I learned about it while thrift shopping with a friend of mine. A woman overheard us talking and told us about it. I researched it online and signed up to volunteer. 

 

What’s your favorite part about working at ACR?

Learning new artistic mediums. I did acrylic painting here and there, then I did sewing for a while. And now I’m really interested in clayworks, which is how I came up with my DIY.  

 

Are you an artist, crafter, or maker? What mediums do you work with?

A crafter. I work with all sorts of mediums. It’s hard to really pinpoint one that I am designated to. All sorts of things that come up. Embroidery, clayworks, etc. 

 

What do you do when you’re not working at ACR?

Usually I like to be outdoors, hiking, traveling, camping. If not, I definitely love to play video games. 

 

What’s the craziest thing you found in donation mountain?

Probably a diamond with a certificate of authenticity. It was stuck in an envelope. I happened to look inside for some paper and the certificate fell out along with a little diamond. 


About Bianca:

Bianca is a west Texas native and has lived in Austin for over ten years. When she was young, she drew and painted on almost anything she could get her hands on and then it evolved into a variety of all creative things such as woodworking, photography, and sewing. Growing up with her family and a small lot of farm animals led her to a love for nature and all things living. With that, it gave her passion to want to live a sustainable life and be a part of any action that can reduce negative environmental impact.

 

Volunteer at ACR as a Core Volunteer!

Volunteers are the heart and soul of ACR. They are responsible for a large portion of our labor hours and we literally could not do this work without them! We have a central group of what we call ‘core volunteers’ who contribute to all areas of ACR’s operations. Core volunteers are those who are invested in the success of ACR and constantly help us to grow and expand our offerings. In the past, core volunteers have started a weekly fabric rolling party, led a monthly craft night, and represented ACR at numerous community events. Now, we’ve added a few new in-center roles for core volunteers to get involved with.

 

Check In Attendant – If you are a people person and like sparking conversations with strangers, or friends you haven’t met yet, this is the role for you.  This would be a fun role for folks that have a positive attitude and enjoy keeping people happy and chatting about reuse. 

 

Customer Service Specialist – If you are crafty, resourceful and knowledgeable about different materials and techniques, then helping customers would be a fun role for you.  This person makes sure folks visiting the center can find what they’re looking for, explain how the bucket section works and solve their crafting dilemmas. 

 

Donation Processing – From detangling yarn, to sorting beads, to pricing boxes?  Are you interested in sorting through the 1000’s of lbs of random materials that we get every week?  This role will help with sorting, packaging and pricing materials to bring value back to these materials that might otherwise end up in the landfill. 

 

Online Sales –  Like so many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, ACR pivoted quickly to open an online store to get materials into the hands of the Austin community.  For this position, you might be bundling items to be listed online or you may be doing the actual posting.  If you like taking pictures or coming up with quirky definitions, this would be a fun role for you. 

 

Ready to get involved? There are a few simple steps to become a core volunteer:

  1. Fill out a Volunteer Application
  2. Attend a Volunteer Orientation
  3. Pass a Background Check
  4. Sign up for your first Volunteer Opportunity!

 

We can’t wait for you to join us!

2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Tel: (512) 375-3041