Member News

Reuse Alliance member, Materials for the Arts in New York, has two events coming up in the next two weeks.

MFTA Back-To-School: Thursday, August 27

MFTA will host a special Back-to-School teachers only shopping day as part of an initiative to increase the amount of materials provided to NYC Department of Education schools. The event will help teachers prepare for the upcoming school year by providing supplies for their students, classrooms, and school projects, as well as ideas for creative lesson plans. There will be more than 100 teachers on hand for this event. Specific invitations have been sent to representatives from underperforming schools throughout NYC.

MFTA Instameet: Wednesday, September 9

Instagrammers: Curious about how Materials for the Arts processes, stores and redistributes over 1.2 million lbs. of materials to schools and non-profit art organizations each year? Here’s your chance to get a firsthand behind-the-scenes tour of the 35,000 sq. ft. MFTA warehouse. Join us as we host NYC Recycles on Sept 9, from 3- 4pm for a creative reuse scavenger hunt at Materials for the Arts.RSVP to join us:   #‎MFTAsnaps ‪#‎Instameet ‪#‎dsny ‪#‎MaterialsinAction

Q & A with new Board Member Ben Rose

Q: Tell us a little about your job.
A:  I serve as Director of Operations for NYC Center for Materials Reuse (CMR).  CMR is funded by NYC Dept. of Sanitation to serve as a virtual support center for local (NYC) materials exchanges and reuse programs. The center provides research, reuse community development and (in-kind) donation coordinating services through its two core programs:

  • ReuseNYC,  a non-profit umbrella network of over 25 local materials donation organizations
  • NYC WasteMatch, an online donations platform which connects nonprofit organizations with donations from private sector businesses.

In addition, the center conducts research on materials reuse in partnership with the City College of New York. A result of this research has been the development of the first-of-its-kind Reuse Impact Calculator (or "RIC") system, which allows the center to quantify the social and environmental impact of local materials reuse.

Q:  What previous positions have you had that have led you to where you are today?
A: I would have to say film production. I worked for a number of years as an assistant film director in both the United States and Hungary. I think the nonprofit reuse industry has many moving parts from logistics to fundraising, training to community development, all of which has some parallel to experience I gained in film production.

Q: What is the future of reuse?
A:  Data. I think for the reuse sector to continue to grow we'll need to increasingly find ways to quantify that growth and its local, socio-economic and environmental impact.  I see many organizations doing amazing things, but it's often a struggle to collect data and process that data into convincing cases for local government and donors.  If the reuse sector can provide reliable impact statistics it can be extremely powerful when communicating to governments looking to incentivize waste, energy and greenhouse gas reduction activities.  It also makes it easier for those in government advocate on behalf of the sector.

Q:  Give us one sentence about why you joined the board of Reuse Alliance.
A:  Federations such as Reuse Alliance can provide a tremendous service to local networks, and I'm very much looking forward to participating.

Member Spotlight: The Child Creativity Lab

The Child Creativity Lab (CCL) is a planned specialty children’s museum that nurtures the creative mindsets of our children among the busy lifestyles of working parents, the consuming technology culture of our youth, and standardized testing. Its vision is to inspire children to challenge their comfort levels and thereby raise their potential for personal development and contributions to society.

One of CCL’s key philosophies incorporated into the fabric of the organization is creative reuse. The CCL was moving in the direction of having a traditional museum store or gift shop until a fortuitous meeting with fellow creative reuser – Lisa Hernandez, Founder and Executive Director of the Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse.

“Once I walked into the shop, met with Lisa, and learned about how she was making an impact with families and the community, it just clicked,” says Peter Chang, Executive Director of the CCL. The organization has since modified its launch plans, and has been working to open the CCL Depot for Creative Reuse as its maiden facility, among other things. Chang continued, “The CCL Museum-on-Wheels educational outreach program launched in early March, and our first program was held at The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. It focused on the creative reuse of single use plastics to make personalized, one-of-a-kind robots.

The kids had a great time, and the program was so unique that it garnered the support and sponsorship from the Orange County Association of the Education of Young Children (OCAEYC) and Kohl’s.”  Peter added that “CCL partnered with the Reuse Alliance to not only learn more about best practices, but also to help with efforts to change the mindset of how society typically views used items. CCL provides more access to wonderful, environmentally-sustainable activities that exercise our abilities to be creative.” Click here for more info.

Repair PDX is Reinvigorating Repair

Repair PDX is a Portland, Oregon based organization that hosts “repair cafés” – free events that bring together volunteers who like to fix things with people who have broken items that need fixing.

Early in 2013, the idea of starting a repair café in Portland kept coming up in conversations. With so much interest in the concept, bringing people together to explore it further presented a perfect topic for a local Reuse Alliance Oregon Chapter Meeting. With over 30 people in attendance, the foundation for Repair PDX began to form. A group of volunteers coalesced around the project and launched the first Portland repair café in June, 2013. When a line formed of people with their broken fans, vacuums, small appliances, clothing, bikes and jewelry, it became obvious that there was a real need for this service.

Since that first event, Repair PDX has held six other repair cafés, fixing over 170 items. With 85 attendees at the most recent event, the concept has taken off and Repair PDX’s mission to spread repair culture is succeeding. Nearby City of Gresham is researching incorporating repair cafés into its waste management programs.

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon Chapter Coordinator and Repair PDX organizer, said, “We’ve discovered that people have an emotional attachment to their belongings. They don’t want to throw them away. Something magic happens at our events when people gather to share, learn and help each other through repair. We provide positive, fulfilling experiences that reinforce the benefits of reuse in a powerful, personal way. What could be better than that?”

Create Better Impact Games

Create Better Impact Games (CBIG) is a game developer that conceptualizes and develops educational games that teach various aspects of environmental sustainability – including reuse – in a fun way.  One of their top games is called “Waste Not,” which is a card game where players learn together about keeping resources out of the landfill and using less energy in the process. It can be played in as little as five minutes, individually or collaboratively, and it generates creative thinking. Waste Not encourages upcycling, reuse, composting, and redesign of materials enabling that a-ha moment which shifts thinking from ‘cradle to grave’ to ‘cradle to cradle.' An online version and upcycyled decks are available at the CBIG website

Kirsten Bonanza, Founder and Awareness Designer of CBIG says, “The game structure is often used to help people develop skills and new ways of thinking – you know, the ‘out of the box variety’ so that players can become their own superheroes in the quest to save our world from destruction.” Kirsten further explains that, “Create Better Impact Games ended up in a 6th-8th grade special education classroom while we were testing out the game to make sure it worked prior to publishing. The students had a blast coming up with different ways to reuse items and the lesson kept them focused for much longer than their teacher thought possible. Six months later the classroom’s teaching assistant happened to notice that two of the students were standing over the trash can discussing what didn’t need to be in there. We were thrilled that the game was that effective and we look forward to widening its impact.”

The game was also tested at a permaculture design course at a local community college. Kirsten said, “We were wondering if people who already understood sustainability would learn something and have fun. What we found was that they still felt challenged by the game and then were eager to learn more.” 

When asked about why she became connected with Reuse Alliance, Kirsten replied, “The organization represents a group of people concerned with a key concept in sustainability. There is no ‘away.’ How we deal with our resources matters and increasing this understanding among people is important. This is why Reuse Alliance’s presence is needed.”  Click here to learn more about the game.