Your Garbage Can Live on as Art with SCRAP

A couple weeks ago I saw a brightly-painted truck driving around my Portland neighborhood with the word “SCRAP” scrawled on the side.  I later learned this was a part of Portland’s School and Community Resource Action Project.  They collect everything from buttons, wrapping paper, yarn, and paper towel tubes and distribute it to schools to use as art supplies.  I wrote a post about recycling the contents of my basement many months ago.  Some of the things we went to great lengths to recycle (such as CD jewel cases) could have been donated to this organization–and reusing is always better than recycling.

Even if your community doesn’t have a program like SCRAP, you could collect some items destined to the trashcan and donate them to a local school.  I remember hoarding toilet paper tubes and egg cartons after my third grade teacher specifically requested them as art project donations.

Collecting your clean, “art-project worthy” garbage to donate to a school can be especially eco-friendly if you don’t have much of a recycling program in your town.  I know that some parts of the country still don’t recycle magazines or other paper products, let alone ribbons, rubber bands, or useless CDs.  Here’s just a brief list of some of the items SCRAP collects, to give you an idea of what you might reserve from your trash pile:

  • Magazines
  • Old and new calendars
  • Tissue Paper
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Foam core
  • Frames
  • Staples
  • Paper clips
  • Bottle caps
  • Altoid tins
  • Small blocks and boards
  • Tennis balls
  • Stickers
  • Bubble wrap

Portlanders can check out SCRAP’s website to see which items are in demand and what they have too much of.  Non-Portlanders could try calling schools and leaving a message about the trash-I mean “art supplies” and “science experiment materials”-you’re willing to donate.  If you’re really ambitious, you could even try organizing a SCRAP-like program for your own local schools. 

Giving away the contents of my garbage pail instead of sending it to a landfill always works for me.  Have you successfully recycled household detritus by donating it to schools?  Please post a comment and let us know how it worked for you.

After a little summer break, Rocks in My Dryer is back with the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival.  All bloggers are welcome to jump into Green Baby Guide’s Thrifty Green Thursday blog carnival, which starts every Wednesday evening at 8 o’clock.  Please join us!


  1. send your old (non-mud stained) tennis balls to The only company in the world dedicated to recycling tennis balls. shipping costs are covered for 200+ balls sent.
    The “Enviroball” is the first recharged ball in the world sold.
    – Cannon

  2. Our church also filled old back packs with toiletry items, clean socks, etc for the homeless. If you don’t know of a church that has a homeless ministry, ask a local homeless shelter if they can use them. They can also suggest ideas of how to fill them.

  3. This is a wonderful idea!! Being a non-parent yet, I can’t wait to look around for schools who may need assistance in art supplies. Thank you for sharing!!

  4. Wow, what a neat service. Seriously, you west coasters have all the fun green stuff! I used to work at a day care that got random stuff from some similar sounding service. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

  5. The library I work at is always gathering supplies like this for the teen and kids programs. They have “make and takes” every month, and they frequently put out requests for old clothes, paper towel tubes, various containers, etc. So check your library too.

  6. As a first grade teacher, I was happy to read about SCRAP. I have a very popular classroom center I call the “Creation Station”. Students reuse all kinds of discarded items from home to create something new. Students know that they must bring in items from home to keep this center going. I provide the masking tape and they provide the ingenuity.

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