It isn’t waste ’til we waste it.

“Imagine a place in San Antonio where waste inspires creativity…because it isn’t waste ’til we waste it,” reiterates Mary Elizabeth Cantú, Founder and Director of Spare Parts. As an organization whose mission includes–cultural and environmental sustainability; affordability and accessibility to the arts; community, education and creativity, green-style–Spare Parts engages the public with many possibilities to reach zero waste...

CONTINUE READING

Guest Post: 4th Annual Fine Arts Fair Recap!

Laura Carter
Laura Carter

Laura Carter is a writer, blogger, social media maven and nonprofit aficionada. She spent six years at the San Antonio Area Foundation and her blog “Beyond Paychecks” ran online bi-weekly at the San Antonio Current from 2010-2013. Carter recently retired as Communications Director at Providence Catholic School. In addition, to serving on spare parts advisory committee, she works with Blessed Sacrament Academy on Mission Road, is a member of the TEDxSanAntonio communications committee and contributes to the community journalism project NOWCastSA.

Guest Post: How spare parts saved me from my trashy habits

Laura Carter
Laura Carter

Laura Carter is a writer, blogger, social media maven and nonprofit aficionada. She spent six years at the San Antonio Area Foundation and her blog “Beyond Paychecks” ran online bi-weekly at the San Antonio Current from 2010-2013. Carter recently retired as Communications Director at Providence Catholic School. In addition, to serving on spare parts advisory committee, she works with Blessed Sacrament Academy on Mission Road, is a member of the TEDxSanAntonio communications committee and contributes to the community journalism project NOWCastSA.


It’s no secret, I am a huge fan of the organization spare parts, and its founder/director Mary Elizabeth Cantú. I first met Mary in January of 2012 at a social media workshop. With a degree in elementary education from Mount Holyoke College, she is a smart, talented young woman with a passion for art, education, environment and collaboration. 


Not being artsy crafty in anyway, the spare parts basic message by artist Aaron Kramer–“Trash is the failure of imagination”–intrigued me. My take away–stop throwing away stuff that can be reused, repurposed or given a new life through art by the creativeness of artists and/or students in the classroom. 

After realizing our throw-away society holds many hidden resources, and just about anything can have a second life, I began making changes in the way I viewed prospective trash. I no longer threw anything away without first evaluating its possibility to become something useful. Now, I don’t mean garbage, like food stuff or the things in the cat litter box. I’m talking about all kinds of paper, boxes, glass and plastic containers, old art or sewing supplies, toilet paper or paper towel rolls and many other items we toss without giving a second thought. 

Kitchen Island
Kitchen Island. Photo thanks to Laura Carter.

Before I buy a new household item such as drawer organizers, I looked at things I had around the house and found that shoebox lids make great tool and utensil trays. As much as possible, I reuse glass and plastic containers. Toothbrush holder–an old vase. My husband, who I’ve always deemed a hoarder of sorts, is ecstatic I nag him less about the garage full of all matter of ‘things saved to use later’. And, I love this kitchen island (left) he made from an old dresser with tiles and drawer knobs from the Habitat store, and garage sale stained glass panels. 

Trying to stay environmentally-friendly when we do purchase new items, we give pause to consider can the packaging be recycled. Is the container reusable or even biodegradable? We use only reusable bags for groceries and don’t purchase water in individual plastic bottles. We  buy water from the Windmill kiosks and fill reusable bottles at home. Paper towels were replaced by cloth towels. Milk cartons make good plant starter containers. I learned to make a natural cleaner from vinegar, liquid dish soap and baking soda. 

Anything that looks promising but, I can’t figure out how to use, is saved for the annual spare parts materials giveaway for San Antonio teachers. Over the years, hundreds of teachers have taken boxes of seemingly dead supplies to be resurrected by their students into fun, creative art work.

 

Art educator Anika Blanco. Photo thanks to Chris Castillo.
Art educator Anika Blanco. Photo thanks to Chris Castillo.

Coincidentally this year’s giveaway is coming up on Friday, August 1st from 10:00am to 2:00pm at the Wonderland Mall of the Americas. A Fine Arts Fair in conjunction with the giveaway will provide family-friendly arts information and projects.

There is an opportunity to volunteer for this fun and worthwhile organization to help receive and sort donations at Wonderland Mall of the Americas on July 29 and 31 from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. Bring some stuff and stay a while to help.

Mary is an artist, educator, inspiration and innovator. She changes the way we view trash  through spare parts‘ campaigns and educational workshops. If each of us changes our habits even a little we can make a difference.