Home > 3rd Friday > Message from Ann: March 2014

Dear Friends,

Happy Spring! The weather has been willy-nilly and I’ve been cleaning out my studio, as usual!

It feels good to keep as much as possible of the things I am getting rid of in circulation, keeping them out of the landfill and making them available for REUSE. As most of you know, this is a huge challenge, and it is also one of the things that I love love love about The Scrap Exchange — that we take materials from artists’ studios (among other places!) and keep them in the mix.

This is not recycling — it is reuse.

The materials that get donated to The Scrap Exchange, including fabric, paint, beads, wood, motors, metal, and on and on, will pass through the hands of many staff members before they hit our shelves, workshop room, or classroom to start their next life. There are many moving parts to receiving, processing, merchandising, and keeping over 50 tons of materials a year available to the public.

The reuse economy is a powerful thing.

It fulfills the basic needs of communities — it collects and distributes food, clothing, furniture, books, building supplies, household items, educational material — and gives communities access to huge supplies of materials, helping to alleviate poverty and scarcity, creating new sources of raw materials, providing jobs and critical resources for communities, and keeping materials in circulation.

This is not recycling — this is reuse.

I’ve also been thinking about the future of reuse.

I’m looking forward to heading to Austin, Texas later this year to participate in ReuseConex 2014, presented by the national Reuse Alliance. Austin has committed to city-wide efforts to increase recovery of materials from the waste stream and to get to “zero waste,” reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90% by 2040. They even renamed the solid waste department the Austin Resource Recovery Department.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Austin does things, and also checking in on our friend Rebecca Stuch, a former Durham resident who is working on starting a creative reuse center in Austin based on The Scrap Exchange model.

More “future of reuse” activities that I’m thinking about and would like to see more of include reuse centers for school systems; public support for the reuse industry including data, funding, and public policy changes; eco-industrial parks/drop off centers located close to landfill/transfer stations; college/universities institutionalizing and expanding surplus programs; and creative reuse centers in every city, just to name a few.

The reuse industry is a wild beast, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. It is created from an economy of excess, that overflows all the time and sends valuable materials into the waste stream. The reuse industry turns this waste into abundance, but there is always so much more than can and should be done, which is why I think so much about its future.

And that’s what I’ve been thinking about as I clean out my studio and send materials to The Scrap Exchange for reuse. Thanks for reading my rant!

What else is happening around here? It’s Third Friday this week! We have an opening reception for ourGreen Gallery show — check out this wonderful exhibit by Sarah E. Dale on circles, and get some great ideas about what to do with all those lids kept in circulation!

Our massive Storewide Sale is coming up April 12th! We will have super deals and big discounts.

We are participating in Paradoxos 2014 and will be helping create a Rube Goldberg device — we are very excited about the opportunity to participate in this event, thank you Taylor from Shoeboxed for getting us involved!

Are you looking to start a creative reuse center or other innovative reuse program in your community? Sign up for our Creative Reuse Center Boot Camp to be held May 13–16, 2014 … our early bird special still has a couple of weeks left. Visit www.scrapexchange.org/calendar/boot-camp-2014/2014-05-13/ for more more information or to register.

Many thanks for your continued support.

With love and gratitude,

Ann May Woodward
Executive Director
The Scrap Exchange