Community Stash Busting


The April Stash Bust is pretty dear to my heart. In fact, Craft Leftovers is pretty much the April Stash Bust year round. If you’ve jumped over to the “about” page it reads:

“I am driven to create, but not to create more waste. From the studio to the kitchen, I make a point to look at what is on hand first before running to the store… Join my mission to not only de-stash, but also to find fabulous uses for all those leftovers, to live your life creatively!”


How does that apply to the rest of my life?

I had a pingback to the April Stash Bust kick off post last week that prompted me to write today’s post: the April Stash Bust as it applies to community projects! I’ve mentioned Ames only randomly the last few months, so you may have missed it. I started a local non-profit art organization named Ames Collaborative Art. We call it Ames :)


In my capacity as Creative Director, President of the Board, Fundrasier, and Chief Instigator, I’ve been given a lot of oppertunities to make a difference in how our organization impacts the community.

{Ames charity sewing workshop – made 25 hats and 17 scarves for the emergancy shelter project in Jan 2010}

We started out like most art groups do–disposable cups, plates, napkins, etc. When I saw us pitching cups and scraps, it really bothered me. But how could we avoid it? Are we going to tell new members, “Tough luck, no drink/cookie/cupcake/food for you?” Nope. We decided to encourage our members to bring their own mug if they want something to drink. We’ve asked them to bring their own place setting if they want to share in the potluck fun.

How do you get people to sign on to that? Well, we are a pretty creative group of people, so we came up with some creative solutions.

1. We have a “kitchen kit” that includes some mugs and saucers from the thrift store to let new members use. It also includes a “wash kit” that has dishsoap and a wash cloth in it. Everyone washes the dish they use or we rotate wash duty responsibilities. (I’m working up a wash kit tutorial for Craft Leftovers. It will make an appearance later this week.)

2. We have an Environmental Impact Fine. We have a few disposable products leftovers that we continue to use until they are gone, but every time a member uses one, they have to pay a 25 cent fine.  Everyone gets one free pass, but after that it’s a fine or no drink. It’s a low amount, but it helps people remember for next time.

3. We are going to start listing “bring your own mug” in each of our event listings so people know ahead of time and expect it. If there’s food, we include “bring your own place setting.”

4. We are writing a pattern for a fabric place set holder that your silverware, mug, and bowl fit nicely into. It will be free to download from the Ames website in June. And we are going to have a sewing workshop on how to make one with the supplies included later this year.

There are some things though that are unavoidable.


We are kicking off our first large scale public art project at the end of April–a great community mural! It will be 12 x 80 feet! Amazing. We will have to purchase brushes, rollers, paint, buckets, drop clothes. There is no way around it. Or is there?

While we will have to purchase some supplies, we are also doing a drive for used materials–brushes, rollers, buckets, drop clothes–that have been gently used can be donated at a drop box. Hopefully many of our supplies will be used! We are also borrowing scaffolding from a local business instead of purchasing our own.

You may not always be able to make it a 100% reuse project but many times you can make it at the very least 10%.

The main point of the April Stash Bust is to work on making your impact smaller. You can scale back a little or a lot, but the main thing is that you are trending down your consumption. So like Lisa (the pingback I mentioned at the beginning of the post), if you have a project you know you have to purchase things for, look for other ways you can make the event a little more earth friendly. The main thing is that you do your best and feel awesome for resisting the urge to purchase unnecessary things.

Happy stash busting!

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