Monday, August 24, 2015


Hey Reusers!

Do you have a Pinterest account? Do you know what it is? It is a visual bookmarking website that is free to join. You can create boards by pinning links/images from bookmarked materials. Think of it like a virtual cork idea board with little cut-out images pinned up. I started an account for the Art Supply Exchange and have already pinned over 800 items relating to reusing and artists/educators. 

I have found beautifully designed posters, easy to follow craft tutorials, amazing work by artists working in a variety of disciplines, and many more. We currently have 13 boards in total about:
  1. Paper Roll Craft/Art Ideas
  2. Paper Roll Art Supply Storage
  3. Paper Art and Artists
  4. Repurposing and Reviving Old Art Supplies
  5. Reuse Art and Artists
  6. Repurposed Storage for Art Supplies
  7. Posters about Eco Art
  8. Reuse Craft/Art Ideas
  9. How to Make and Store ATC's (Artist Trading Cards)
  10. Plastic Bottle Reuse
  11. Eco Companies and Groups
  12. Posters for Artists and Creatives
  13. Posters for Arts Educators
Any other boards you'd like the Art Supply Exchange to start pinning and seeking out? 

Please follow us. We hope that you can use some of these ideas and find inspiration for your own studio or classroom projects.

Happy Reusing, folks!
-Erika Folnovic

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Movies to Watch

Hi Reusers!

In recent weeks I have watched three movies that had mindful impact on me and the way I think about the reuse/recycle/"life hack"/DIY (Do it Yourself)/eco/fair trade/organic/green movements. In fact, even just listing off that long line of terminology is a daunting task. If something is organic it is not always fair trade, fair trade may not be ecologically sustainable, a "life hack" or DIY project may not promote reusing, our recycling may or may not actually be reprocessed. We have created these systems of disconnect that remove us from being cognizant of the social and environmental impact we are having on our planet. As well, we have bought into a system that hierarchically places consumption over the environment. Whether it is the fashion industry producing clothes in factories with unregulated working and environmental conditions maintaining little accountability for human and natural life being harmed OR relying heavily on plastics and having their never ending lifespan find a home in our oceans OR embracing a planned obsolescence of everyday products and placing priority on our recycling and garbage bins before reuse bins, we are further distancing ourselves from ecological sustainability in the short and long term. Here is a list of these three films:

The True Cost (2015, Directed by Andrew Morgan)

Description from WebsiteThe True Cost is a documentary film about the impact of fashion on people and the planet. Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth, and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the globe and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes. See more at:

Some of the most poignant moments of the film come from the juxtaposition of Black Friday madness in the USA and observable conditions in garment manufacturers. This idea of "fast fashion" harms so many people and environments (two examples from the movie include the Rana Plaza disaster and the unimaginable rate of farmer suicide in India) but because we don't see those direct impacts when we enter retailers like H&M, Gap, or Zara to buy a $5 shirt we are blind to the social justice and environmental issues these countries face. Definitely eye-opening. I'd recommend this movie for discussion and research in high school social studies classes, in fact, you can easily send a screening request form by going to this link. This movie is now up on Netflix if you have a chance to watch it.

Addicted to Plastic (2008, Directed by Ian Connacher)

Description from Website: ADDICTED TO PLASTIC is a feature-length documentary about solutions to plastic pollution. The point-of-view style documentary encompasses three years of filming in 12 countries on 5 continents, including two trips to the middle of the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates. The film details plastic's path over the last 100 years and provides a wealth of expert interviews on practical and cutting edge solutions to recycling, toxicity and biodegradability. These solutions - which include plastic made from plants - will provide viewers with a hopeful perspective about our future with plastic.

How much plastic do you throw away on a daily basis? How much do you recycle? How much do you reuse? What I love the most about the "reuse/DIY/life hack" movement is that overall it does promote the repurposing of our so-called "garbage." It takes a lot of what we got wrong over the last 100 years (as this movies spans) and flips our mentality to find the inherent value in plastics trash. The movie is quite optimistic and I love all the profiles of companies who are trying to change the standards of plastics productions. I created some pins on the Art Supply Exchange's Pinterest board about two of these companies Ocean Sole and Conserve India, but they are only small initiatives in a larger global problem. I think Creative Reuse Centres across the world are helping to bring both awareness and popularity to the hierarchy of the reduce (1st priority), reuse (2nd), recycle (3rd) chain.

The Boxtrolls (2014, LAIKA, Directed by Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable) Based on the book "Here Be Monsters!" by Alan Snow

Description from Website: The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in Cheesebridge, a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells.

LAIKA is a amazing animation production company that specializes in stop motion animation. If you're an adult, you may shrug off animated films because they may seem like films for children, but LAIKA's movies (Paranorman, Coraline) are highly sophisticated in their dealing of the human condition and beautifully designed, animated, and produced. The Boxtrolls intricately weaves together themes of understanding and tolerance, as well as, environmental sustainability. I got excited by the visual world they created for the Boxtrolls, which is built on the repurposing of throw aways. At the end, they even implemented reuse bins on the streets of Cheesebridge. Definitely another crowning achievement from LAIKA.


Happy Reusing, folks!

-Erika Folnovic

Monday, August 17, 2015

Inspiring Messages from "The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Creative Reuse Center"

I have now twice read through my copy of "The Social Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Creative Reuse Center" by Kelley Carmichael Casey and Alyssa Kail and now feel ready to share some thoughts about the text, including useful messages and tips from its pages. While the book provides useful pragmatic information and advice (including worksheets at the end of most chapters), I mostly want to share the words that really resonate with me.

Before this analysis, I would like to mention that I took a course earlier this year from March until May offered by local leader Marian Donnelly called "How to Run a Non-Profit Organization" at the Creative City Centre (a cultural hub for artists spanning from spoken word to print media, which includes a gallery/performance venue, as well as, studio spaces for rent). I found a lot of material covered in this book was covered extensively in this course, BUT I found it very helpful that the book focused solely on CRC's whereas the course offered a much broader reach to include a myriad of arts and cultural organizations. This course was integral to the Art Supply Exchange. Marian not only provided me with mentorship as I started this venture, but I met Jennifer McRorie, former director of CARFAC Sask in this class.

Together these two resources presented a comprehensive and integral guide as I started to explore this CRC adventure.

Page# Quotation Thoughts
7 "Starting a creative reuse center is a full-on commitment, takes hard work and good community relations, as well as resilience and a willingness to explain your mission over and over to potential stakeholders." The book does a great job of balancing a "go-getter" attitude with the risk-taking reality of starting any business or non-profit. The authors are clearly very passionate about this work but are not afraid to tell you it comes with its challenges.
7 "...cast-off goodies and doo-dads..." I just love the terminology they used in the book. Very easy to read with a conversational feel.
9 "A creative reuse center is a place full of color, texture, inspiration, and, typically, a little chaos." Any artist's dream.
9 "And items that likely would have wound up in a trash or recycling bin are, at best, reused in a sustainable way or, at worst, postponed from entering the waste stream." We hope the objects that are taken home from our stores are responsibly used but we can never be sure. I hope that people who are interested in committing to the reuse mission by volunteering or purchasing items do take it seriously and integrate daily practices in their lives. It can be as simple as having a tote bag in your home where you put these objects instead of putting them in the trash.
10 "[CRC's] change the sustainability conversation by acknowledging that there is value in repurposing materials for strictly aesthetic reasons." There are a myriad of artists integrating this methodology in their studios. One of my personal favorites is El Anatsui.
17 "It's important to never turn away a donation without giving the donor options for reuse and/or responsible disposal." I want to add a section to our List of Accepted Items that does address this. Regina does have a wealth of charities and thrift stores that (I'm sure) would love these donations.
19 "Passion plays an important role in establishing a creative reuse center. Without a compelling drive, it's difficult to stay the course when it gets bumpy. And at times it will get plenty bumpy... Consider how tempting it can be to bail out of a situation when nothing seems to be going right. You'll need an anchor to hang on to during challenging times. Enthusiasm and passion for the work make up that anchor." I know I will always have this enthusiasm and passion and I hope my future coworkers, board members, and community can see this clearly. One of my biggest worries is not losing this passion myself but the community who uses and volunteers with the centre losing this passion and leaving me on my own. It is a worry but not a reality. I have experienced a wealth of support already in the past month of announcing the Art Supply Exchange and this energizes me.
20 "If you are attracted to starting up a creative reuse center in your community, we'll make some assumptions about you... You are either crafty or a hoarder. We'll assume the former." I had a very good laugh at this statement. I do regularly say, though, that artists and educators have a little hoarder in their heart. Often we'll hold onto items "just in case" we need it in the future because we don't know if our next grant application will be accepted or if our schools will approve the spending. We have to learn to survive in sometimes very bleak and bitter circumstances (ie: funding has been cut from our schools and we have to dig into our personal savings to purchase just the necessary materials to maintain programs) but we are thrifty and make do, to say the least. Supporting one another I think is the greatest strength of creative reuse.
33 "While creative reuse is the best thing ever, you need to find out if other people in your community agree." Although I haven't done any formal feasibility studies, my goal was always to start small and sustainable with room to grow.
43 "You are creating an arts and environmental organization. A creative reuse center is a beautiful marriage of two disciplines that aren't always seen as naturally connected. You will need champions in both sectors to thrive." I would recommend reading To Life! Eco Art in Pursuit of a Sustainable Planet by Linda Weintraub. It informed a lot of my research into eco art models. I particularly liked the definition of the three strands of eco artists (the second being the model of creative reuse centres): the first utilizes raw material from natural environments (e.g., sap, pollen, feathers, bark, bone, branches), the second draws from discarded and degraded manufactured material (e.g., manufactured goods in landfills or second-hand shops), and the third explores living plants, microbes, and animals (pg. 43).
59 "You'll need to straddle the fence that separates pure creative ingenuity from brass tacks facts and figures." A good reminder for balance.
62 "We are big fans of surveys. We find that the more data collected and analyzed, the better informed we are about our function in the stakeholder village. Without establishing feedback loops, you could be preaching to the choir, working in a silo, and worse, potentially developing programs and services that please you but don't resonate with your stakeholders." I liked their use of the term "stakeholders," which relates to the community you serve, other organizations that sponsor you, members, volunteers, and everyone in between that has some investment in your organization. It is concise but inclusive.
71 "Remember the Rule of Seven from advertising? Reportedly, people need to hear a message a minimum of seven times before they act on it. If you are using email, newsletters, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, you're priming the pump to pay attention to the buzz." Another useful tip.
87 "It's hard to decline the services of a willing individual when you have so much work to do. We still advocate that you screen carefully and engage those who are a good fit." Learning from other reuse centres, I am drafting a comprehensive policy with job descriptions before I seek out any support. Having this structure in place is very important to me because I struggle when I am surrounded by too much chaos.
87 "Finally, once you have your corps of volunteers, treat them like exactly what they are - solid gold." Volunteers = solid gold.
105 "You are on the cutting edge of an exciting movement in reuse history." It is exciting to be a part of a larger movement of reuse, diy, life hacks, and other trendy terms. I even started a Pinterest page for the Art Supply Exchange, as an alternative to printing pamphlets with ideas for reuse, which makes it easier to share ideas of interest and uses less paper.
105 "Our hope is that you have decided that you are exactly the type of person with that kind of passion to start up a creative reuse center... We wish you the greatest joy and sense of accomplishment in helping the community, helping the planet and creating economic opportunities." Again, I was happy with the authors mix of hard truths and excited encouragement. It made me feel secure in my choices and decisions, as well as, pointing out some additional material I may have not considered.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience!
-Erika Folnovic

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

And so it begins...

Hey Reusers!

I just wanted to share with you an update about our facility. I am super excited that our little corner in the CARFAC Sask Regina office is taking shape!

(I forgot my DSLR, so, we'll have to settle for a phone picture.)

On August 6th, my mother and I went on a citywide trek to collect all the donated bookshelves and storage units (from friends, family, and my own hoarded collection). They are finally all in one place and clean, as well as, currently being organized. I spent a few hours today looking through containers and boxes of donated materials. 

Finally, we have the bare bones of the Art Supply Exchange!! *cue excited cheers* There is still so much to do and I have a little over a month to get it all done, but I am more excited now than ever seeing it all put together.

Happy Reusing, folks!

-Erika Folnovic

Friday, August 7, 2015

No Donations August 17th-21st + Like Us on Facebook!

Hey there reusers!

We just got word that CARFAC Sask's Regina office is going to be closed from August 17th - August 21st, which means that we cannot accept donations during that week. Sorry for any inconvenience but we are still accepting donations the rest of the summer and up until our September 25th launch!

If you haven't yet, check out and like our Facebook page. We are doing photo features all August with acceptable and unacceptable items to donate. Here are the first week's featured items:

Happy Reusing, folks!