Published in ComPost: The Parent Community Organization newsletter of Imagine Environmental Charter School in the May 2012 edition,
Interview With: Breen Masciotra, Executive Director
General Description: Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) promotes resource conservation, creativity, and community engagement through material reuse. Our vision is that all Pittsburghers will have an outlet for purchasing and donating reusable materials and that they will have opportunities to be creative. PCCR achieves its mission and vision through strategic initiatives including a retail shop and educational creative programming.
What inspired the beginning of your business?
Faye Miller worked at the Scrap Exchange in Raleigh, NC and brought its idea and
her enthusiasm to Pittsburgh in 2007 when she and Rachel Dennis began a similar venture. What began as a series of small community craft stations reusing materials became our trademark Reuse-a-Palooza event which we set up at art festivals, local libraries and community days, as well as First Night Pittsburgh. PCCR originally had a small space inside Construction Junction with limited hours and staff but grew into a fabulous, huge collection of objects and materials that required a larger space and staff. We have our own store now with six part-time staff members and some wonderful volunteers that keep useful materials flowing in and out of our doors.
What is your favorite thing about your business?
My favorite thing is that we are both an environmental and an arts program so we
have relationships with both disciplines and a variety of community members. Our
primary mission is environmental—that is to divert waste, and we do this by trying fill a very specific niche in the community. While furniture, clothes and toys can go to local donation centers, and construction materials can go to Construction Junction, we take the other (useful!) things that no one else wants, including traditional art supplies. And our focus on learning new skills and creating new things makes us more relevant to a larger population.
What is the thing that keeps people coming back?
Word of mouth brings people in for the first time, but they come back because our inventory is constantly changing. Every day that I come to work, I see something I’ve
never seen before. People also love coming in because our staff is so passionate about working here and helping the customers. It is just a fun place to be.
What is the most surprising thing about running this type of business?
Our biggest revelation is finding out just how well we are doing. Recent research revealed that we divert one full ton of local waste each month to creative projects! Another thing that still (always) surprises us is when people walk through the door
for the first time and just say “wow”. Hearing that reaction is still wonderful and makes our work a joy.
In what ways might you like to make a connection to he Environmental Charter School (ECS) community?
We hope that ECS families see us as a truly valuable resource–not just in terms of
recycling, but also by realizing that reUSE is often even bigger than recycling. Because it is local, there are no transportation or manufacturing issues. And creating new things from old materials is a great way to teach children. We offer workshops and activities at our store and in the community to foster creative art-making. On our Facebook page, you can see many unique creations that people have made in the past and, hopefully, this will give everyone new and exciting ideas on how to use old materials. We were excited to be a part of ECS’s Earth night. For more information on volunteering, donating or CREATING with us, visit Pittsburgh
Center for Creative Reuse at pccr.org.