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'Spare Parts' Makes Recycling A Work Of Art

 Supplies at the Center for Creative Reuse
Supplies at the Center for Creative Reuse

A San Antonio nonprofit wants you to think twice before you throw something away that’s still usable. Spare Parts is their name and their purpose is multi-tiered, and even artful.

One of Spare Parts’ larger objectives is to encourage the move away from our disposable society attitude.

“There really is no such thing as throwing something away. It goes someplace and it stays there for a long time. Spare Parts wants to change that,” Mary Elizabeth Cantu said. She established Spare Parts a decade ago this month.

“Spare Parts was founded in response to the lack of resources that teachers, especially teachers in the arts, receive in the classroom,” she said. “I came upon a bunch of art supplies that people didn't want anymore that were in transit to the landfill.”

Realizing this wasteful process was happening everywhere, she created the nonprofit to house and cheaply resell supplies that others can reuse to create art. The nonprofit also opened an arts and crafts store called the Center for Creative Reuse.

“We’re a 100% donation-based project, which means that we take these pre-loved materials and put them on the floor for a very reasonable price, and we challenge people to reuse them or find their materials here before they go to a regular shopping center,” Cantu said.

If you’re curious: yes, they take donations. As to what they sell, Cantu said it’s a wide variety.

“We take in all sorts of materials, including books and magazines, maps, postcards,” she said. “We take in kids crafts, raw materials like tile, vinyl samples, acrylic. We've taken instruments and fine arts materials, paints and paint brushes that you no longer need, embroidery, hoops, fibers, needles, office supplies, school supplies.”

There are many metrics for Spare Parts’ success. One is what they’ve managed to prevent.

“Since January, we've diverted over 13,000 pounds of materials from going into the landfill,” Cantu said.

Their store is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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Jack Morgan has spent 35 years in electronic media, doing both television and radio.