Volunteer Spotlight: Marji Freeman

What motivates you to volunteer?
I like to volunteer because I like to support others, do a variety of things, serve a purpose, stay busy, and meet people. Volunteering let’s you do all of these things.

Why ACR?
I liked ACR from the first time I stepped into the store—ACR had me at fabric! As I learned about the mission of ACR I really came to appreciate the organization. I was going to ACR once a week with my friend, Deedy. Shortly after I retired from my life’s work, it was time to find what my life’s work would be in retirement. One day Carol said, “you know, if you volunteer here you can also shop.” With that I decided to see if I really could be of help to ACR and feed my soul at the same time. It was a match!!

How long have you volunteered with ACR?
I retired in November 2016 and started volunteering after that.

Are you more into the arts aspect of ACR or the conservation aspect and why?
If truth be told, I was into fabric when I started at ACR, but today, I am more into the conservation aspect of the organization and, of course, I am still into fabric.

Where else have you/do you volunteer?
I also volunteer at the food bank in their kitchen. I get to work on a lot of different things, from chopping onions, to traying up meals, to washing dishes. I also love my work with Project Linus. I love making flannel blankets and fleece blankets that go to children in need. ACR is where I get most of my fabric for these blankets, making it more affordable to do and supporting the reuse of materials. Each of these volunteer opportunities are different from each other, fulfilling my desire to have variety in what I do, keeping busy, helping in different ways, and meeting people.

What do you enjoy the most out of volunteering for ACR?
One of the things I especially like about volunteering at ACR is the variety of people I get to meet. I am grateful that I am supporting our environment through ACR, and yes, I get to work with fabric.

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

Recently, Deedy and I went to the Longhorn volleyball game at Gregory Gym. Sitting in front of us and a couple of seats to the left of us was Kelly, also a Monday morning volunteer. We spotted each other and our mouths dropped open. We were so surprised and so delighted to see each other. It turns out we have sat in those same seats for the last couple of years, but we didn’t know each other until this summer when we met at ACR.

Learn more about becoming a Core Volunteer at Austin Creative Reuse here.

Makerspace in the Classroom

What is a Makerspace?   

Makerspace provides hands-on, creative ways to encourage students to design, experiment, build and invent. A makerspace is not solely a science lab, woodshop, computer lab or art room, but it may contain elements found in all of these familiar spaces.

STEM is a hot topic and this is an easy way to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math in just one area of your classroom!


Items you can find at Austin Creative Reuse!

  • Plastic containers or baskets for storage.
  • Tinkering items in the bucket section.
  • Pencils, markers, paper, rulers, and scissors.
  • Cardboard tubes, glue, and tape.
  • Pipe cleaners, craft sticks, and pom-poms.
  • Plastic/tin lids or containers.
  • Straws, yarn, and feathers.
  • The list is endless and you can always ask parents for donations!

Here are some ideas to set-up your makerspace area!





Austin Creative Reuse Celebrates 3 Years!


September 24th marks the third anniversary at Austin’s first and only Creative Reuse Center. What an amazing three 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!


Artist Spotlight: Miranda Bennett

©Leah Muse Photography

 How did you start doing art and what is your medium?


I began working in my medium, apparel design, at a very young age. By the time I was a teenager, I was constructing the majority of the apparel that I wore. I began in a very untrained, intuitive way, and later studied formally at design school.


 How does reuse play a part in your art?


We are very mindful of reuse at Miranda Bennett Studio. We have a full-time staff member dedicated to creating new products from the various forms of textile waste that we generate with our apparel production. In addition to that, we compost our food and dye waste, and recycle as much as possible.


What compels you to donate to ACR?

I love knowing that others will find new and innovative uses for our naturally dyed textile remnants beyond anything that I can imagine! We love to see what the ACR community makes, please tag us on social media with #mbszerowaste so we can discover your work!


Where can we find out more about your art?

You can see our entire catalogue of work at and on instagram at @mirandabennettstudio.

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!

Tags:, , , ,

2005 Wheless Lane, Austin, TX 78723
Hours: Mon/Tues Closed, Wed to Sun 10am-8pm
Tel: (512) 375-3041