Reuse and Rethink Contest

Austin Creative Reuse introduces
our monthly Reuse and Rethink Contest

To engage people in our community in creative reuse, a reuse art contest is another way ACR will inspire people from all ages and backgrounds to create and reuse.


Here is how it works:

  • Each month, we will have a creative reuse contest!
  • Materials used must be reused — all materials will be available at ACR for simplicity in gathering your creative pieces.
  • The submissions will be judged on three qualities:creativity, workmanship and use of other reused materials.
  • Every month a prize from ACR: a FREE bucket of reusable materials of your choice from ACR’s bucket area.
  • Have fun!

This month’s challenge: New Uses for Old Trophies

What can you make with old trophies?


  • When you’ve completed your creation, please provide up to 2 photos of your art piece, your contact info and a short description of materials used.  Your submission can be made in person at ACR or in an email to
  • Deadline: Sept. 30th

Winner will be notified and announced on social media, along with photos of their creation displayed in the center and on our website!

Good luck!


Material of the Month: Felt

Felt comes in so many colors; the amount of projects and fun is endless! To make things extra easy – grab yourself four sheets of felt, a glue gun, some scissors and go!








Take an old frame and dress it up!









Felt is also great for protecting your Back to School supplies or create something that your students will beg you to use…









Here’s some really fun No-Sew felt animal mask patterns for kids.


Have fun, get crafty and share with us on Facebook and Instagram we’d love to  see what you’ve made with this month’s material.

Volunteer Spot Light


Margo Chang

1. What motivates you to volunteer?  I feel a need to contribute to society.  I’m lucky and don’t have to earn a living and volunteering allows me to make a contribution.  I get to meet new people and find out what others are doing.


  1. Why ACR?

In the fall of 2015 I saw a friend’s Facebook post and thought that it looked like an interesting place to volunteer. I had volunteered in the Round Rock ISD schools while my daughter was enrolled there.  When she graduated it was time to find another place.



  1. How long have you volunteered with ACR?

I started in January 2016. I do about 4 hours a week and stop by Build A Sign to pick up their donations.


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

I am more into the conservation aspect of ACR.  Too many things are just thrown away. I may not always to be able to keep my husband from throwing something away but I can keep other things out of the waste stream.  I also enjoy the artistic side too. I like to ask the customers what they are going to do with the thing they are holding. Sometimes they don’t know yet and other times they have very specific ideas.


  1. Where else have you/do you volunteer?

As I mentioned earlier I volunteered in the schools. Currently I also drive for Senior Access (formerly Drive A Senior) about once a week. I do that to pay back the community for taking care of my grandparents as they aged. I lived too far away to be able to help but the community was there to help.


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

A lot of it is social. While it is satisfying to keep materials out of the waste stream, interacting with people in the center is fun.


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

It’s been nice to develop a relationship with some of the people at Build A Sign.  Part of our mission is to build a community and I feel like that’s happening with them and with others at Austin Creative Reuse.  I’ve also gotten my knitting (and crochet) friends involved and widened the community through there also.


Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for us Margo. You’re such an asset to Austin Creative Reuse!

Artist Spotlight: Jess aka Will Crochet

How did you start creating art and what is your medium?
My medium is crochet and I started crocheting about 15 years ago. I started off making scarves and blankets, but quickly became interested in putting pieces out on the street. My first street pieces were all about adding something beautiful or quirky to everyday street objects. I added leaves to stop signs, making them look like flowers, stapled granny squares to telephone poles, and glued lace to streetlight boxes. In the run up to the 2016 election, I started putting out pieces with a political message, and found many like-minded individuals involved in craftivism on Instagram. I am a life-long musician and I never thought that I would take up the visual arts. However, since the election, I have really evolved my practice, and I have given myself permission to consider myself an artist and use my medium artistically. I am interested in making landscapes, primarily of the Big Bend area, and layered sculptural pieces (like the one I put out in front of the shop!).

I put up a telephone pole piece along the March on Science route last year and this year I have been putting up cats and dinosaurs with speech bubbles that say “Vote.” I collaborate with another crocheter, @Mrsprofessorcrochet (on Instagram), to make larger projects; she and I put up the “Be Nice” piece on the fence above the Lamar underpass, and we are working on another big installation for that fence, so keep an eye out! 
How does reuse play a part in your art?
This year I made a commitment to purchase only second hand yarn or natural fibers. I’m very concerned with climate change and since synthetic yarn is a petroleum product, my medium directly contributes to the consumption of fossil fuels. I feel good using yarn that I know would have been in a landfill if I didn’t buy it. Before learning about Austin Creative Reuse (ACR), I bought yarn from second-hand retailers and I worked for a larger second-hand chain for several years when I first moved to Austin, so reuse has been important to me for a long time.
I have been making crochet cacti to sell at markets around Austin, and all of the yarn that I use to make those is from ACR.
Why reuse?  Conservation, sentimentalism, another story? 
Science is real, climate change is real, and I believe that we all need to make lifestyle changes in order to ensure that our planet is here for our children and grandchildren. I advocate for reuse as well as riding instead of driving. I am a daily bus commuter and I use my commute time to crochet. I have a hashtag on Instagram #capmetrocrochet and I invite anyone who crochets on the bus to post to that hashtag! This summer all K-12 children ride for free, so I encourage you to plan family trips using the bus! You can map your trip using one of the Maps apps on your phone by choosing the public transportation option. Imagine the impact on Austin traffic if all of us chose to ride the bus, bike or walk just once a week rather than drive! 
What excites you about shopping at ACR?
Let me count the ways that shopping at ACR excites me! First, you never know what you are going to find, so it’s always a fun surprise to see what is in the shop that week. Second, there is a lot of vintage yarn in colors that you just cannot find at retail stores. Third, I have found absolutely beautiful fibers (alpaca, organics, bamboo, silk, etc.) that I could never afford retail and it’s so exciting to find multiple skeins for less than you would pay for one skein. Finally, it feels so good to know that your purchase helps keep items out of landfills.
Where can we find out more about your art?
I’m most active on Instagram, where I post about the items I make for markets as well as the pieces I put out on the streets of Austin. I live in South Austin, so I put up a lot of work in the South Lamar area. 
@MrsProfessorCrochet and I are planning to start a crochet meetup at the Austin Central Library and we would also love to get a yarnbomb collective started to work on larger scale installations, so please send either of us a direct message on Instagram if you are interested – the more the merrier!  
Please send a few pictures of yourself and/or your artwork to show. 
See embedded and attached.  If you choose to use the “Nevertheless, she persisted” photo, please credit Robert Safuto at @knowatx for the photo (I have his permission to use). All other photos are mine.
Instagram = @willcrochet
Facebook = @willcrochetart
Etsy = Will Crochet Art

City of Austin Recognizes ACR as Platinum Level Austin Green Business Leader

ACR is delighted to announce that we have been recognized once again by the City of
Austin as a Platinum Level Austin Green Business Leader for our continued
commitment to sustainability practices and the impactful steps we have taken to
help Keep Austin Green. The Austin Green Business Leaders program recognizes
local business and organizations that protect the environment, enhance the
community, support local culture and maintain a healthy workplace. ACR is the only
organization in the history of the Austin Green Business Leaders to receive a perfect
score on the Community Stewardship section of the evaluation! We are so grateful
for the amazing community that has grown up around ACR and our Center and for
the opportunity to bring our vision out into the greater Austin community through
our committed team of staff, volunteers and board members.
You can learn more about ACR’s Sustainability Vision and Commitments over here
[link to or however you
typically like to do the links]. Find out more about the Austin Green Business
Leaders Program at



Zero Waste Classroom

Students need adult models and they need to be empowered to make the choices and ask the questions that help them find solutions. Start the conversation on day one and use it as a lens for all you do and use. Ask simply, “How can we consume less? Where and how can we reuse more?”

For students, the experience of a Zero Waste classroom is a real and empowering step towards approaching the greater environmental challenges of plastic pollution and the climate change; students learn that their choices do matter. Use math to help them understand the compounded impact. i.e. One classroom uses 100 less pencils, there are 22 classrooms in our school, there are 30 schools in our district, etc.

Recycling is great but it’s not the answer. It is a last resort, not a first option. Change the known triad of REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE to REFUSE REDUCE REUSE RECONSIDER REPAIR RECYCLE.

Classroom Challenge

  1. Remember why it’s important. Ask the kids for their own reasons of why it’s important to reduce and reuse.
    1. “I love the ocean and pounds of plastic end up in the ocean…”
    2. “Our landfills are filling up.”
  2. Refuse what you don’t need.
  3. Reduce what you do need.
  4. Reuse where you can. Share resources with other classrooms.
  5. Recycle minimally and view this as a last option, not first.
  6. Create classroom challenges such as the single pencil challenge wherein each child is given one pencil and encouraged to use that one for as long as they can or zero waste lunch challenges.
  7. Install a Creative Reuse cabinet in your school for teachers and staff to use.
  8. Collect compost.
  9. Before you buy, ask parents and teachers for items they may already have.


  • Pack reusable utensils for breakfast and lunch.  
  • Use reusable lunch boxes or bags.
  • Use reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles.
  • Find reusable containers instead of baggies or foil.
  • Thrift stores are loaded with options for lunchbox vessels taking reuse to another level.
  • Discuss zero waste lunch options with the kids.

School supplies:

  • Ditch the plastic mechanical pencils and use wooden ones instead or buy one good mechanical pencil that can be refilled.
  • Avoid plastic binders and find cardboard ones or eco-friendly ones or find used ones at thrift stores or at Austin Creative Reuse.
  • Don’t buy new plastic pencil boxes. Use cardboard or canvas ones. Old makeup bags or cigar boxes make great pencil cases. Buy or find good quality cases that can be used year after year.
  • Many notebooks have only a few pages used. Rip these out and encourage reuse.
  • Encourage using both sides of a page.
  • Use recycling bin contents as scrap paper
  • Check Austin Creative Reuse for your back-to-school shopping needs where you can get great quality materials for less than cheap materials elsewhere.

For art projects:

  • View all waste as possible fodder for projects. What’s in the trash? The recycling bin? Ask the kids how they might use what is there. Pose the question to them, “what materials do we already have that can be used as an alternative to new supplies?” i.e. pencil shavings for collage, broken crayons and crayon wrappers for art projects, tissue boxes for dioramas, bottle caps for manipulatives or mosaic, etc.
  • Cardboard is a multi-faceted art material and is literally everywhere! Cut it, draw on it, peel off the top layer to expose the corrugation, or let kids rip it into shreds as a fidget.
  • Shred/cut any plastic or cardboard for confetti art.
  • Use plastic containers like yogurt or fruit cups to hold your paint.
  • Dried out markers can be used for collage or building projects.
  • Use the surplus that is all around us.
  • Put the reuse lens on everything you do.


  • Create a classroom party box with reusable plates, cups, utensils for class parties. Parent volunteers wash and return.
  • Use decorations and bulletin board decor that is or can be reused.
  • Use fabric table cloths or drop cloths that can be washed and reused.
  • Create a classroom compost.
  • Ask the custodians not to change the trash bag daily.
  • When assigning classroom jobs of the week, create a sustainability or green team.
  • Create share boxes of used crayons and markers for each table or group vs. individual boxes

What ways have you incorporated reuse into your classroom? What challenges do you face in regards to new vs. reuse. Email us! We want to know!

Interested in installing a Creative Reuse Center in your classroom? Email us for more info!

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Tin Can Windchimes







This is a great summer activity you can do with your children! Reduce, recycle and reuse!

  • Choose 4-5 cans that will nest together as a set.
  • Remove the lid and label.
  • Wash and dry them.
  • Using a hammer and nail, poke a hole in the bottom of each.
  • Paint the outside as desired with acrylic paint.  Using a white primer first might help.
  • Beginning with the largest, stack the cans.
  • Measure a length of heavyweight string equal to the height of the cans, plus 3 feet.
  • Knot a wooden ring onto one end of the string.
  • Thread the other end up through the hole in the smallest can.
  • Decide how low you want the can to hang, slide it up the string, tie a big knot, and slide the can down again until it rests on the knot.
  • Add the other cans in the same way, making sure they overlap slightly so they’ll chime.
  • From the excess string, form a hanging loop (about 10 inches long) above the largest can.

Celebrate Pride Month

Here are some ways to support Pride Month and a great way to reuse or repurpose items you have. Enjoy!

Rainbow zipper bracelet

Welcome April Kling Meyer to the Board of Directors

ACR would like to welcome our newest Board Member, April Kling Meyer.  April will be heading up our Community Outreach Committee.  Her focus will be on capturing and sharing the ACR story on a local and national level.

April Kling Meyer is a multi-disciplinary creative and hobbyist. She began quilting at age 8, and began designing her own formalwear and making her own clothes at the age of 15.

April’s career has covered many facets of media, marketing, and publicity. In Austin, she is best known for her former Chronicle Award-winning fabric retail at Fabricker, as well as her philanthropic work with Art From the Streets, Fusebox (with SOS: Sewn on the Street and Future Factory Austin at thinkEAST), New Milestones Foundation, and Girl Scouts of Central Texas.


May Craft Night – Upcycled Cactus Planters

One of our favorite reuse crafts, upcycled cactus gardens.  We all wind up with ceramic cups, bowls and serving pieces that are cracked or chipped.  Too precious to send to the landfill so we must find a way to reuse instead.  For our May craft night, we pulled together some of those adorable containers and long with a bit of potting soil, cactus cuttings and a ceramic drill bit to come up with something special.  We added a bit of flare to each container by digging around bucket.  Adding a small toy, some pretty rocks or even an tiny Christmas ornament can really up to cute factor.  



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