Organize Your Recyclables–Let Them Live on as Art!

This week’s edition of We are THAT Family’s Works for Me Wednesday is the “Organizing Edition.” Now, I got a bit confused last month and posted about organizing kids’ clothes when I should have been posting a back-to-school tip. I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and re-run this post about organizing your recyclables–just in time for back to school!

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.


  1. Thanks for the tip. If only all cities had such a program. Occasionally someone posts on my local freecycle that they are looking for certain “trash” for their classroom art projects. It is a great idea. I linked this WFMW post to my own. Thanks again!

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