But plexiglass can be repurposed. That’s in line with the goals of Austin Creative Reuse, a nonprofit that resells donated materials – varying from traditional arts and crafts supplies to power tools. The nonprofit wants consumers to prioritize reusing materials for projects. It accepts donations from people and businesses and sells them below market price.
Jen Mack, a manager at the nonprofit, said Austin Creative Reuse sells plexiglass for about a dollar or less per square foot.
“Plexiglass is a really great material for artists to use, and especially in those squares that the shields are in,” Mack said. “There’s just a lot of usable space on that. So, yeah, why throw it away?”
Mack says the plexiglass can be used to make jewelry, decorative coasters and windows for sheds or children’s toy houses.
But she says Austin Creative Reuse is a small nonprofit with limited resources, including storage. The group wants to divert as much of the plexiglass away from landfills as possible but can’t take all of it.
“If all the Costcos and all the HEBs in Austin would donate to us, I don’t know that we could handle all of that at once,” she said.
Austin Habitat for Humanity ReStore, a discount home improvement store and donation center, is also accepting donated plexiglass for resale. According to its website, the organization wants to provide low-cost building materials and keep reusable items out of the landfill.
Pat Mallett, who works at Hometown Recycling, a commercial recycling service provider, said the organization has gotten a few plexiglass boards already. The organization isn’t able to recycle it, but gardeners pick them up to make greenhouse windows.
“People are very creative,” Mallett said. “They’ll think of ways to reuse it as long as they have access to it.”
Photo caption: Plexiglass shields are set up in front of cash registers at HEB to protect workers and customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.
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