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Challenge Yourself: Use What You Have to Make Something New

Visit Reuse-a-Palooza at the Arts Festival to see where your creativity leads you and help the environment in the process.

Photos by Gabriella DiPietro

For the last 10 years, the Three Rivers Arts Festival has featured Reuse-a-Palooza, an event encouraging festival goers to make their own art out of reclaimed materials.

Reuse-a-Palooza is hosted by the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, a nonprofit at the intersection of Wilkinsburg, Homewood and Point Breeze that aims to inspire creativity, conservation and community engagement through reuse. Located in the festival’s Giant Eagle Creativity Zone under the Portal Bridge, Reuse-a-Palooza is offered daily from noon to 6 p.m.

“By making the Reuse-a-Palooza available for all ten days of the Arts Festival, Creative Reuse hopes to educate the public about every individual’s impact on the environment, and the power each of us has to reduce waste, conserve resources and create something meaningful within our communities,” says Ash Andrews, executive director of the Center for Creative Reuse.

Through donations from individuals with extra art supplies, as well as businesses with a surplus of goods, Creative Reuse has collected a large range of unique reclaimed materials, offering people a boundless buffet of items that can be used to make sculptures, assemblages, dioramas, collages, wearable fashions and accessories, newly-invented games and more, according to Laurie Ramie, a contractor at Creative Reuse’s retail shop and warehouse.

“A popular project for kids during the arts festival is to make trophies for their dads since Father’s Day is close by,” Ramie says. “Many people donate old trophies to the Center, and we actually disassemble them and offer up the separate trophy parts as materials to create with. ”


In 2018, Creative Reuse kept 75 tons of materials out of landfills alone. The Center accepts a wide range of donations, such as paint, tools, fabric, gently-used arts and crafts supplies, vintage items, artwork and more. For a list of what can and cannot be donated, click here.

“We are a part of the three R system – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We find them to be listed in order of importance: Reduce is the most important, so we reduce our consumption and not use as many materials from an environmental standpoint. We fall into the middle category of reuse. Instead of tossing something, we try to envision a second life or another use for it. Recycling is kind of a last resort because it’s not as great of an option nowadays, especially with the current limits regarding what can and cannot be recycled,” Ramie says.

While Creative Reuse holds this environmental mission, they also strive to increase people’s creativity by providing participants with loose parts that can inspire a lot of divergent thinking. “We teach them how they can make their own things, so they don’t have to buy everything new,” Ramie says.

There are only a few days left of the festival, so stop by the Reuse-a-Palooza to create something new to take home. Be sure to look at your hands once you go – your thumbs may even look a little greener.

“People should come to Reuse-a-Palooza because it is fun and a creative challenge,” Andrews says, “and it keeps reusable materials out of landfills by giving them a second or third life.”

Click here for daily updates from the Three Rivers Arts Festival.


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