Recycling and composting are great ways to divert waste from landfills and turn those materials into valuable resources. Reducing the amount of waste you produce, including reuse, is an even better way to keep solid waste out of methane-producing landfills. Conscientious choices when shopping like choosing products without a lot of packaging, buying locally, and even bringing your own bags, are a few other ways to reduce waste. Shopping at reuse centers is another excellent way to keep useful materials in the consumer stream and out of landfills.
Creative reuse centers around the globe are enabling communities to reduce waste and educate people about reuse and it’s contribution to sustainability. By working with materials that may be considered scrap, they impact waste reduction economically, socially, and environmentally. Often nonprofit, creative reuse centers collect donated materials and make them available to educators, artists, and the general public. Donations may come from corporate partners or from local residents, and are often tax-deductible. Materials range from traditional items like paint, yarn, and paper supplies, to more unusual items like pvc tubing or carpet samples. These materials are then sorted and available for resale at low cost. Many creative reuse centers house galleries and boutiques, as well as the retail space, where they feature artwork and crafts created by upcycling unwanted material. Many creative reuse centers are housed in spaces that are donated or low-rent. Most often non profit, centers rely on donations and volunteers. The community and school involvement propel the daily activities and management. Artists and environmentalists alike find inspiration from the great work done at creative reuse centers around the world.
Creative reuse centers go by different names like SCRAP and MECCA. SCRAP stands for a few different things, for example, in Portland, Oregon it means School and Community Reuse Action Project. In San Francisco, the Bay Area’s oldest creative reuse center, SCRAP, was opened in 1976, and stands for Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts. MECCA, the Materials Exchange Center for Community Arts, is located in Eugene, Oregon. SCRAP in Portland, Oregon was founded in 1998 and currently has 6 satellite locations in Denton, TX, Arcata, CA, Traverse City, MI, New Orleans, LA, Kennewick, WA, Baltimore, MD. Other locations skip the acronyms, for example, Austin Creative Reuse, Seattle ReCreative, and Scraptivity in Connecticut, are more creatively named. The Art of Recycle has a comprehensive list of creative reuse centers around the world if you are looking for one near you.
Supporting these centers is an ideal way to keep otherwise useful materials out of landfills, support educators, and inspire your imagination. They can offer workshops, spaces to work, and opportunities to display creative reuse projects and artwork. The work they do is so important socially, economically, and environmentally. One day I hope to see a creative reuse center in Montclair that serves the tri-state area and benefits educators and artists as well as the environment.