Home > Focus

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 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.

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.


At the Scrap Exchange, we focus on promoting reuse. Reusing is preferable to recycling because it saves the energy that comes with having to separate and recreate raw materials and re-manufacture products. Reuse also significantly reduces waste and pollution by reducing the need for raw materials, saving both forests and water supplies. Finally, reuse extends the life cycle of a product and honors the initial energy in the creation of the original product, although it is given new life in a re-purposed state.

Our efforts toward reuse has allow us to divert over 850 tons of waste away from landfills in a calendar year.


Hands-On Ways To Express Your Vibe.

Through a variety of opportunities such as screen printing, sewing classes or our Make-N-Take room, you can explore your creative side or enjoy the artful expressions of community members. We have open studio times, community meet-ups and creative classes so you can find what works for you. We also take our Make-N-Take room on the road. Our Events by the Truckload, bring an array of fascinating and unusual reclaimed materials to your event — including cones and tubes from textile mills, fabric samples from decorators, vinyl sticker paper from sign shops, and so much more. Participants will have a blast building whatever they can imagine out of the materials we provide! We include tools (scissors, tape, and staplers) for creating, along with staff to manage set up, clean up, and all of the creativity in between. Everyone leaves your event with a fantastic project of their own invention!

Reuse and environmental awareness is not boring! The Scrap Exchange provides a venue for experimenting and learning new ways to explore creative reuse.


Education provides children and adults with opportunities to escape poverty, gain a voice in their community and experience a better quality of life.

The Scrap Exchange aims to educate the community on creative opportunities for reuse as well as environmental impact and awareness. In house, we offer creative classes led by local teaching artists. These classes provide both foundational and skill building instruction which incorporates reuse principles and materials.

Through our outreach program, we provide learning in both active and classroom settings. We offer year round field trip opportunities to regional educators with programs designed to teach about the positive environmental impact of reuse while engaging in hands-on creative activities.

We also are a partner in education with local teachers by providing educational opportunities, discounts for supplies, and outreach programs.


Beauty Builds Community

Art is at the core of what we do. From the very beginning in 1991 The Scrap Exchange has been a valuable resource for all types of artists, providing affordable and unique materials in an environment catering to the creative spirit. The Scrap Exchange began by collecting “clean industrial discards,” materials from mills, factories, and businesses, which were otherwise destined for the landfill. These discards could be repurposed by clever individuals into myriad projects both big and small. Today the Scrap Exchange takes donations from individuals as well as business and industry. This allows us to stock our shelves with traditional art supplies; hardware, craft materials, antiques, ephemera, building supplies, and so much more while still keeping prices as low as possible. It’s an artists’ paradise!

As well as being a place for artists to gather materials we are also proud to house the Cameron Gallery and the Cameron Gallery Marketplace, another valuable resource for artists and art lovers. Our first gallery opened when we were located on Foster St. in downtown Durham and moved with us to Golden Belt in 2011. In 2014, our long-time supporter Danny Cameron gave us the funds to build out a gallery in our current location in Lakewood. In 2020, the Cameron Gallery has been updated and prominently placed at the front of the building as we introduced the Artists’ Marketplace. The Artists’ Marketplace provides an opportunity for artists to sell their work and for the community to share in Durham’s fabulous creative culture.

Keep an eye on our campus as well! We’re collaborating with artists to help turn our end of the Lakewood Shopping Center into the Reuse Arts District by creating murals, sculptures, benches, gardens and more.


Community is What Makes the Scrap Magic

Whether it is our volunteer team that makes this organization run like clockwork, our paid staff that takes us to the next level, our regular customers whom we love to see again and again, our new customers who delight us, teachers that are able to go further, artists that create and teach or our generous donors, both material and financial, that bridge the gap, the Scrap Exchange is a community!

Enjoy a song written and performed by one of our community members, the incomparable Willa Brigham, “The Scrap Exchange Song”:

Through our stores, events and festivals we have created a community. Together we are making a real difference in the environment by practicing and teaching creative reuse.