The Scrap Exchange is a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.

Who We Are

The Scrap Exchange is a Creative Reuse Center — we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse.

We partnered with the North Carolina Museum of Art to document what we do and decided to reuse the video on our story. Click on the video below to learn more:

The Scrap Exchange creates a win-win-win situation for everyone involved — our donors are eligible for a tax deduction for the value of the items they donate; community members have access to hard-to-find, affordable materials; and usable materials are kept from entering the waste stream.

As an organization, The Scrap Exchange is largely self-sustaining, with nearly 90% of our annual budget coming from income generated through store sales and fee-for-service programming. The money we make through retail sales and outreach programs pays for day-to-day operations (salaries, rent, utilities, vehicles, etc.) and allows us to continue collecting materials and providing programming that fulfills our mission.

Store sales and income generated by fee-for-service programming supports our operation and allows us to collect materials from businesses and individuals in our area, and to process those materials and make them available to the public.

The remaining 10% of our budget comes from grants and individual donations.

What We Do

We collect materials from over 250 industries within a 100-mile radius of The Scrap Exchange. Materials include foam, paper, fabric, zippers, buttons, test tubes, and much more. We also take in contributions from individuals. We welcome craft materials, art supplies, vintage goodies, and other unique items. We take in more than 500 drop-off donations each year.

We collect materials from hundreds of individuals, businesses, industries, and municipal sources and distribute those materials through our retail store in Durham, North Carolina as well as through workshops, parties, and outreach events across the Southeast.

Materials are sold in our retail store and are also featured in a variety of creative arts programs and workshops. Our Events By the Truckload program travels to large-scale community festivals and events where we provide hands-on, creative arts activities. We also travel to schools for classroom workshops and after-school activities, and we host workshops and parties at our Creative Reuse Center. We teach professional development workshops for educators and childcare providers that explain how to incorporate reclaimed materials into their curriculum and we share information on where they can find “materials in their neighborhood.” 

Where We Came From

In 1991, a woman named Chris Rosenthal and a group of supporters including nationally known environmental artist Bryant Holsenbeck and educator Joe Appleton started The Scrap Exchange. Chris was a teacher who wanted great materials for use in her classroom. She had previously worked for an organization in Australia called The Reverse Garbage Truck and patterned The Scrap Exchange on that program.  Please visit the History page for more information about the history of the organization.

From our opening in 1991 until December 1999, we occupied several different locations in Durham’s Northgate Mall.

In addition to the Northgate Mall store, we also operated a store and workshop space at Stonehenge Market on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh from September 1992 to September 1993, and then sold materials at the Atlantic Flea Market in Raleigh, from September 1993 to summer 1995.

From January 2000 until May 2011, we occupied 13,000 square feet of space in Liberty Warehouse, a former tobacco warehouse in the Central Park district of downtown Durham. That location included 8,000 square feet of retail store space and 5,000 square feet of warehouse storage space. In May 2011, a portion of the roof of the Liberty Warehouse collapsed following a storm. The entire 200,000 square foot building was condemned by the City of Durham, and all tenants were forced to relocate.

Following the roof collapse at Liberty Warehouse, we leased space in the Cordoba Center for the Arts at 923 Franklin St. from June 2011 until August 2014.

In December 2013, we purchased our own building at 2050 Chapel Hill Road in Durham. The property includes a 23,000 square foot building (formerly the Center Theater and the Duke Surplus store) with 2.4 acres of ground. We moved into this space in August, 2014.

Where We Are Now

Our current space includes a retail store; Make-N-Take Room where we host open studioparties, and workshops; design center; art gallery offering monthly exhibits of art made from reused and recycled products; Artists’ Marketplace selling upcycled products from local artists and craftspeople; and office space out of which we run our operation.

In 2019 and going into 2020, we began some major changes and improvements which included replacing the roof on the Arts Reuse Shop and offices, improving the facade and organization of the retail stores, moving the flow and location of the Cameron Gallery, creating the Artist’s Marketplace and gaining the approval for $660,000 Reuse Arts District grant from the Durham City Council.

Where We Are Going

Uncommon thinkers reuse what common thinkers refuse.

J. R. D. Tata

The future is bright. We are excited about what is to come.

Change is apart of growing and community. For our coming years we are going to increase our focus in four main areas of strategy:

Capture and Tell More Stories

We want to show what makes the Scrap Exchange such a great place. We want to hear about your connections to the scrap exchange. We want to inspire others through our work. In the coming years we are determined to make storytelling an integral part of the scrap exchange by highlighting the community we serve.

Showing More Appreciation

Our staff dedicates a lot of their time to make sure the Scrap Exchange experience is the best it can be for the community. We plan to make sure we better show appreciation to our staff and volunteers. The Scrap Exchange would not exist if it wasn’t for them.

Identity Our Core Offerings

As we grow, we should always remember where we came from. We are putting an extra emphasis on aligning our organizational structure with our mission and core programs. This means, we are assessing what systems we have in place and where we should improve. The outcome will be a sleeker and more efficient Scrap Exchange which translates to more of what you love about us.

Get Stronger and Smarter

As a nonprofit we need to ensure our infrastructure is strong. Achieve a robust financial stability gives us a buffer against unforeseen challenges and allows us to go with the flow. We aim to expand our financial reserves over next three years in order to build capacity. 

We hope you will join us in our mission of creative reuse and enjoy the journey with us!