Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

Austin Creative Reuse sells crafting materials, gathers creative community

Samuel Hayek
Volunteers test markers for repurposing at the Austin Creative Reuse Center on Oct. 11, 2023.

A large unicorn with flowing beaded hair and a pair of painted butterfly wings made out of plastic sleds greets visitors walking into Austin Creative Reuse. The nonprofit center sells donated crafting supplies and hosts community events to promote environmental responsibility, diverting over two million pounds of materials from landfills over the past 13 years.

“We educate people on sustainability in this really creative, artistic way,” community engagement manager Tanya Marin said. “It’s a perfect blend of my personal values of conservation and having an impact on what happens in our local community.”

Marin said the center sells low-cost fabric bundles, beads, buttons, art tools, school supplies, vintage collectibles and more for as little as 25 cents. Leftover items recycled from Austin City Limits and the Austinite-favorite costume store, Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds, found a new home on the shelves of the center where they await a second life. 

“As the effects of climate change can no longer be ignored, people are starting to understand the value of places like this,” Marin said. “There’s this consciousness about, ‘What am I doing with my stuff, and how does that affect the world around me?’”

Supplied by individual donations and surplus stock, ACR operates as the largest creative reuse center in Texas, receiving around 50,000 pounds of donations a month. Volunteer coordinator Madison Knapp said the center serves as a social gathering place for artists, teachers and craft lovers.

“This is their happy place to come here and peruse,” Knapp said. “I’ve seen people spend an hour and a half at this store (without) buying that much. They’re just chatting with people, learning about new products and seeing what other people are excited about.”

Knapp said she encourages students to join the growing volunteer program as a low-commitment and flexible volunteering opportunity. With a simple sign-up ahead of time, coordinators teach individual and student organization volunteers the skills necessary on-site.

“Our volunteer program tries to build the community by making it accessible to everyone, no matter their levels of ability or any difficulties they may have,” Knapp said. 

The University recently funded a work-study program for ACR, allowing a team of students to develop community outreach and social media. Mia Chiessa, a Radio-Television-Film freshman, tasked with bundling school supplies into classroom craft kits, serves as the educational specialist producing blog posts and designing a scavenger hunt for visiting students.

“The work is really important because teachers aren’t paid enough, and schools aren’t funded enough, so to be able to help in any way is really nice,” Chiessa said. “I just feel very lucky to be a part of that process.”

ACR also holds educational and hands-on Make & Take workshops. This month’s Halloween-themed classes allow participants to create ghost garlands, snake pencil toppers and fall cards. Marin said they host monthly Reuse & (Re)Think contests to imagine new purposes for ordinary objects, such as doorknobs and rubber stamps.

“We want to be a center where people meet and exchange ideas like a little highway of information exchange,” Marin said. “We just want to encourage people to look at things in a different way.” 

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said the Austin Creative Reuse diverts “over a million pounds of materials from landfills,” however, that number has been corrected to two million. The Texan regrets this error.  

More to Discover