Happy Earth Day 2016!

Today on our blog, we celebrate with a post about an organization that encourages the creative reuse of materials when making and teaching art. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you step inside the nation’s oldest creative reuse store. SCRAP is located in San Francisco, CA, and is also known as the Scrounger’s Center for Reusable Arts Parts. When we visited this week, a fellow shopper noticed our amazed gaze and gave us a quick tour of his favorite place. He finished his spiel with a resounding, “Welcome to Paradise!”

Fabrics, miscellaneous buttons, sewing patterns, figurines, jewelry, pen caps, scraps of paper, used art supplies, and old books pepper the walls from floor to ceiling of the giant warehouse space. It is filled with the clutter from houses and businesses that get thrown away, recycled or donated.

This place exists for people who find beauty in everyone else’s unwanted junk.

SCRAP exists for the artist creating beautiful jewelry out of a broken down circuit board, and in the same breath creating a gallery worthy installation of leftover sewing spools. SCRAP exists for the underfunded art classroom creating beaded masks for their school's art show. SCRAP exists for the 24 year old looking at old books and frames to decorate his apartment. SCRAP exists for the lady picking out yarn for her next knitting project. We were simultaneously inspired by the variety of the supplies as well as the variety people buying them. Imaginations surely run wild at SCRAP. 

In honor of Earth Day 2016, we sought to find ways that would help reduce our negative impact on the environment when teaching and creating art. When we discovered SCRAP here in San Francisco, we were opened up to the world of Creative Reuse. For over 35 years, SCRAP’s mission has been to “Stimulate creativity and environmental awareness in children and adults through promoting the creative reuse of materials that traditionally have been discarded as waste.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reusing supplies helps prevent pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials, reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change and reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills. SCRAP claims to divert more than 250 tons/500,000 pounds of reusable art supplies from the landfills annually!

SCRAP’s goals are simple:

• To Maximize the diversion of reusable discarded materials from the solid waste stream.
• To Collect and redistribute these materials to underfunded educational programs and organizations, teachers, artists, parents, and students in the community.
• To Educate and benefit the community in the art of creative reuse.

The store was packed on a Wednesday afternoon, but we were able to chat with one of the managers and she told us some of her favorite things about Scrap:

"SCRAP is a very rehabilitative environment for the people involved. There's something about physical work and working with things that could have been thrown away, it’s about not being wasteful which makes you think about how you live your day to day".

We walked away from our visit with new supplies and heads full of ideas. Not only did it get us to rethink the ways we create and teach art, it challenged us to reduce the waste we produce daily. More than anything, being at SCRAP was just plain FUN. We had a blast unleashing our imaginations and letting our curiosity take over. We think the spirit of SCRAP, and places like it, encourage people to be their most creative selves. One of our favorite artists, Henri Matisse, said it best:

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure & and a love of play.”

Thank you, SCRAP, for awakening our creativity and encouraging us to play!

Below are some resources we gathered to get you started on your journey of creative reuse.

SCRAP is located at 801 Toland St. SF, CA 94124

Green Art Workshops: Hosts weekly/bi-weekly classes at SCRAP in San Francisco. Creating your own terrarium, embroidered pet portraits, designing your own lamp, and hand-braided rugs are some of the classes you could take.

Scrap’s Flickr: Filled with artists who created work from the materials in the store.

Creative Reuse Directory: Not in San Francisco? The good news is there is most likely a creative reuse store near you! If you are a maker of any kind or just itchin’ to get started on any kind of project, check out this comprehensive list of creative reuse stores and see for yourself the ways in which a place like this sparks your imagination and creativity.

Upcyclist: A website registry of established ‘upcycled’ artists and designers. Their mission is to “report on beautiful upcycling and innovative reuse of unwanted, unloved materials and objects from around the globe. We discover the art of restoring, recycling, reclaiming, remaking, repurposing, reusing, reviving.”

RecyclArt: is an online database of thousands of upcycled artwork. Just explore the ideas and make sure you click their “Inspire Me” tab, as it will choose a random project to spark your imagination!

Do you have a resource that you think would be a great addition to the list above?
Comment below!