Austin Creative Reuse: Ending Organic Waste in the Workplace


Austin Creative Reuse has made sustainability a focus of its organization from the beginning. The non-profit has a store in the Windsor Park neighborhood in East Austin and sells gently used creative materials. It keeps these materials out of the landfill and gets them in the hands of professional artists, teachers and hobby crafters. 

The challenge 

While Austin Creative Reuse promotes reuse, some materials like paper towels and food scraps need to go through a transformation first. In this case, organic material that is generated by staff and visitors to the store is turned into compost. 

“We would collect compostable materials and volunteers would take bags home to put in their home compost bins,” says Jennifer Evans, Executive Director of Austin Creative Reuse. “However, this can be messy, so few volunteers wanted to do it, and the process was unreliable.” 

Evans says they could not keep up with the volume of materials their center produced as they grew. Multiple bags of material would often end up in their landfill trash bin. 

The solution 

Austin Creative Reuse used the City of Austin’s Zero Waste Business Rebate to get its commercial composting program off the ground. The rebate offers qualifying businesses up to $3,000 to reduce waste. Eligible expenses include compost hauling service for up to six months, indoor compost collection containers and compostable products that replace single-use plastic and foam items. 

The results 

Evans says the rebate has helped the organization compost more material instead of sending it to the landfill. Staff who don’t have access to composting at home can use the bin at work. They’ve also shared the importance of reducing organic waste with their customers. 

“By offering composting to the public in our center and at events, we have the opportunity to educate the public about composting . . . and the benefits of composting,” says Evans. “I also love that we are supporting a small local [waste diversion] business that shares our environmental values.” 

Working with the staff at Austin Resource Recovery also helped them set up a composting program that would be successful in the long run. 

Creating a more sustainable future 

Austin Creative Reuse now keeps 100% of compostable materials out of the landfill.  

Are you ready to compost at your business or workplace? Learn how the Zero Waste Business Rebate can help you get started.