Nonprofit Turns Trash Into Art To Support Creative Community While Saving Environment

A San Antonio nonprofit has single-handedly helped divert thousands of pounds of trash from local landfills.

Spare Parts was founded in 2011 by Mary Elizabeth Cantu, in response to the lack of arts funds and resources in PreK-12 classrooms.

Not only did she want to bring more art to classrooms, but she wanted to do it in a way that would be sustainable and help the environment.

In April 2021, Spare Parts opened the Center for Creative Reuse, which takes in pre-owned creative materials and supplies that would have normally been thrown away and offers them back into the community through their different programs and storefront.

Since opening a year ago, the center has diverted 21,039 pounds of material from landfills.

Their mission is to advance reuse and sustainability through creativity and arts while providing affordability and accessibility to the arts for their community. They also offer community education and hope to foster creativity.

Through programing, education and physical development, Spare Parts hopes to empower people to reduce landfills tonnage through reuse and environmental accountability.

“I shop at Spare Parts to help my environment by purchasing my crafting supplies second-hand (that would otherwise end up in a landfill) for my makes,” said Marty, a mother, maker and customer at Spare Parts. “I shop at Spare Parts because saving money allows me to help my family. I shop at Spare Parts to find unique, vintage, and fun things to create with.

Eric, who is on the Spare Parts Board of Directors, explains that picking up a new hobby is much easier when the supplies are not expensive.

“Some hobbies come with a huge price tag and Spare Parts helps cut the cost by selling slightly used art materials,” he said. “For example, I wanted to learn how to sew and bought a sewing machine for $50 at Spare Parts. This helped me get started on my sewing journey. Now I’m able to shop for fabric at Spare Parts.”

Learn more about Spare Parts on their website, and watch the video below:

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