Home > STAR > Texas Reuse Contest Winners

From 2008 until 2017, the Reuse People of America showcased numerous projects made of materials diverted from landfills by conducting the National Reuse Contest from 2008 until 2017. Unfortunately, time and expense considerations caused the Reuse People to bring the widely popular contest to a halt. The STAR Reuse Council has taken up the mantle by holding the First Annual Texas Reuse Contest.

Before announcing the winners, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to our panel of judges who have devoted their time and talent to making the Reuse Contest a success over several years:

Karen Lantz, AIA, Lantz Full Circle

Dan Phillips, Phoenix Commotion

Page Piland, Piland Design

Also, we wish to acknowledge all ten of the contestants for presenting highly imaginative, beautiful, and thoughtful projects. It is always a challenge for the judges to pick winners. We will showcase all the projects throughout the coming year. Everyone who participated or interested is encouraged to enter the 2019 Texas Reuse Contest. Details coming soon.

Without further ado, the STAR Reuse Council proudly presents the two winners of the First Annual Texas Reuse Contest.

Best Reuse Project in Texas by a Business:

Smarter Sorting, Austin

In the contestants’ own words:

Smarter Sorting is data and technology company that works in retail, and at municipal waste depots. We help our municipal customers identify items in their [household hazardous waste] streams. Once cities know what items are in their waste stream, we enable them to move many of the items into reuse instead of paying to incinerate them. Reuse is accomplished by selling items off the shelf with our partner Habitat for Humanity ReStores. We help retailers make the most sustainable, the most cost effective, and the most compliant decision about what to do with every single unsold, damaged or returned item. The result is that our retail customers cut waste and save money. After formally launching in August 2017, it was apparent by Spring 2018 that Smarter Sorting was 1) growing rapidly and 2) in desperate need of a new office. As a company born out of Austin Resource Recovery with a deep commitment to reuse, we knew that our new office would have to match our ethic and our values. To that end, project “find and outfit a new office that is consistent with our values” was launched. We’re here to tell you, mission successful. Our office is a re-modeled paint and body shop. This is consistent with our values not just because it’s a re-used office, but because many of the items we help municipalities and retailers manage are automotive products. Our office chairs were previously housed at Whole Foods. Our office tables and plants all came from either Doug’s Deals in Leander, or State Surplus. The windows in our conference room came from Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. Our office dishes came from Goodwill. All office paint was recycled and tinted at our re-use facility in Kyle. The gorgeous table in our sitting room was built by one of our staff from pallets he salvaged from our warehouse. The coolest thing about these pallets is that they were pallets that municipal customers used to ship us totes of reusable items they had salvaged from their waste stream using our system…and now the table sits in our office, getting used every day.

Smarter Sorting will receive two free registrations to the Reuse City Tour of Fort Worth, May 2-3, 2019.

Best Reuse Project in Texas by an Individual:

Scaped Senses, Houston

In the Artists’ on words:

“Scaped Senses” is an interactive public art installation conceived by artists Nicola Parente and Tami Merrick embracing cultural diversity and healing community. Our project received an Individual Artist grant awarded by Houston City Hall and Houston Arts Alliance in fiscal sponsorship of Fresh Arts. Public workshops created 1,700 painted PVC grass strands aligning the mulched pathways of the 79 foot diameter, walkable labyrinth. Labyrinth paths led visitors to a central 8 foot tall and 15 foot wide colorfully woven basket sculpture. “Scaped Senses,” a temporary public art sculpture located at 3517 Irvington in Houston’s Greater Near Northside, was a 6 month public art project in 2018. Mayor Turner designated Greater Near Northside as a complete community in need of improvements and strengthening community. Grasses Artist gleaned weekly loads of PVC pipe totaling hundreds of pounds from [the Reuse Warehouse]. Abacus plumbing and U-Plumb-It Montrose donated scrap PVC. C&D Hardware donated cans of mis-mixed paint. Jerry’s Artarama donated workshop art supplies. Artists cut the pipes into grass strands. Community volunteers also donated house paints and scrap PVC. Three months of public workshops invited the Northside community, Alpha Charity (Moms and Sons) as volunteers in painting and collaging individual, grass pipe designs. For the Basket Sculpture, the artist team extracted used yellow gas piping, 3 wooden crates and cmu blocks from [the Reuse Warehouse]. Crates were stacked and screwed together with both recycled and new 2 x 4 lumber into a basket frame. The basket frame was studio assembled and marked for easy site install. CMU blocks from the [Reuse Warehouse] filled the lower crate adding stability and weather proof paint protected the wood. Over 600 feet of recycled sign vinyl were donated by Outfront Media. Art teacher Mike Healey rolled these out in the Eastside Yes Prep School corridor for high school students to creatively paint.

Volunteers cut 8” vinyl strips which were later woven on site by Northside volunteers into the basket sculpture. The artist team used marking spray paint to layout the labyrinth design and Antonio Vergara Lawn Services installed the mulch paths and community grasses. Post project the crates, lumber, and cmu block were recycled into another art project. The project was a memorial to Northside student Josue Flores whose life was taken in 2017, creating community racial tension. Recycled products allowed our team to create low cost public art to heal and strengthen and underserved urban community.

Tami Merrick and Nicola Parente will receive a gift card for purchases at the Repurpose Depot in Houston.


Thank you to all those who entered and participated in this contest! Keep creating and reusing!