You can get weird at Reuse Fest

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .


As the old saying goes, One fool’s trash is another fool’s treasure. Then there’s Reuse Fest, whose participants last year, the inaugural year, made wise use of almost everything donated by people who cared enough to divert their cast-offs from the landfill.
The second Reuse Fest is Saturday from 9a to 1p in the parking lot at the Goodwill Workforce Development Center, 118 52nd St., Lawrenceville, and the public can bring 1. stuff they indiscriminately want to cast off or 2. stuff directed toward the eight recipients. We shall talk about them in a moment. 
The event grew out of the Pennsylvania Resource Council (PRC)’s efforts to help the public get rid of hard-to-recycle items responsibly. Goodwill is donating the space and this year’s sponsor is the American Eagle Outfitters Foundation.
“We have hard-to-recycle, drop-off events with a focus on electronics, appliances and items that would be recycled,” said Sarah Alessio Shea, environmental education coordinator for PRC. “It was not the best fit” for partners for whom reuse of items is part of their missions.
Reuse, after all, trumps recycle in the trinity of green behavior and numerous non-profits exist for that reason. Among them are the eight recipients of Reuse Fest:
~ Goodwill, the non-profit that takes a wide range of donations regularly, which Sarah said makes it a particularly good partner to take the aforementioned indiscriminate cast-off. Not that Goodwill is indiscriminate; there are things that have to be landfilled but very little based on last year’s haul, Sarah said.
~ Off the Floor, an organziation based on the North Side that “gets referrals for gently used furniture from the general public and work with local parishes to supply families who need it,” Sarah said.
~ Global Links, a collector of medial supplies that do not pass muster in our culture but that are desperately needed throughout the world.
~ The Animal Rescue League, which has a shelter and wildlife center, both for which they take supplies such as dog  and cat crates, bedding, pet toys and supplies such as fruit and nuts for their wildlife rehabilitation efforts.
~ The Gay and Lesbian Community Center, which is looking for things materials that youth who come to the center can use, such as backpacks, shoulder bags and materials for the community center itself such as art supplies and youth-focused DVDs.
~ Construction Junction, the mothership of used building construction materials and home to several other reuse-oriented non-profits, two of which are also welcoming cast-off donations at Reuse Fest: 
~ Free Ride, an organization that takes used bikes and bike parts and reconstructs them for free use by children and for sale in support of the organization. It also provides space for people to use the shop to repair their bikes for a fee, said Aryn Gaslowitz, a collective council member. The organization received about 30 at Reuse Fest last year.
and ~ The Center for Creative Reuse, whose retail store and warehouse space live in the Construction Junction complex. 
The center’s executive director, Erika Johnson, said CCR is only taking arts and crafts supplies this year.
Last year it took a mish-mash of items. “It was overwhelming,” she said. “We packed our van full and a gaylord [four-foot high box] and then we said ‘We have to stop!’”
“Our mission is to promote resource conservation, creativity and community engagement through material reuse,” she said. “We try to be an outlet for things that don’t have another good home. We take weird things that probably if you took them to Goodwill they’d have to throw away.”
“Old trophies and business surplus such as empty spools, notions and fabric,” she said. “Some people want used trophies to re-plaque but others use them in sculptural projects," she said.
"Last year, we got something really strange — thousands of plastic goats and donkeys that had been used for research purposes at Pitt. It’s  so fun to see what people have done with them. People have sent us pictures. One person cut some in half and used them as hooks. People have dressed them up and taken them on vacation.”
I want to meet these people; I once put a hula skirt on a plastic rhino I kept on the side of the bathtub.
Sarah said the event serves the public, sure, but it is also "a catalyst that highlights these non-profits so people can know what they do so you can donate another time if you can’t donate at Reuse Fest. A lot of these organizations are small and depend on word of mouth.”
These organizations take donations any time but to save yourself the trouble, check their sites or call to find out how, what and when.
Photos courtesy of the PA Resources Council


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