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How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps

How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps

Kyla Fullenwider | GOOD

About this time each year many of us discover things in the drawers of our cupboards, on the shelves of our closets, and underneath our beds that are the remnants of some well intentioned (or impulsive) purchase. And though the clutter takes different forms—the too small coat or the old, scratched vinyl—those things we once valued are usually given a second life, donated to the Salvation Army or perhaps sold on Ebay. It’s rare that an old sweater would end up in the same pile of trash as last night’s dinner.

But what about those things in between? Things like hangers and yarn, or a collection of bottle caps or a rubber band ball? If you’re like most Americans, that kind of almost-but-not-quite trash will, in the end, wind up in the almost fourteen hundred pounds of waste each of us discards every year. That’s the motivating force behind Pepsi Refresh Project grantee Lisa Hernandez’s Long Beach Depot for Create Reuse.

Her project aims to find creative ways to re-purpose and re-imagine the “junk” that most of us throw out. The center’s mission—similar to the 30 year- old East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse—can be succinctly summed up in that old saying we know so well: One man’s trash is another’s treasure. Rather than throw out those old frames or fabric swatches, why not allow others to reuse them? To that end, Hernandez has set up shop in a 1,000 square foot storefront next to an art supply store in Long Beach, California’s art district selling things like mismatched buttons, carpet samples and scratched CDs for pennies.

Saving old paper clips and broken frames doesn’t sound revolutionary? Think again. Not only does it divert thousands of pounds of trash from landfill, it provides materials for cash strapped artists and teachers, and an opportunity for a second career for people like Hernandez who are looking for meaningful way to give back to their community.

“I think this model could and should be used throughout the country,” she says. And while it’s not exactly a profit making scheme, it is a financially sustainable model that Hernandez says is fairly easy to get started. Here’s how.

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