As a child, Ruth Warren learned to value creativity over consumption. Her parents—who grew up during the Great Depression—taught their children to make ornaments from magazines, matchbooks, and bottle caps, paper dolls from catalogs, and even their house from salvaged wood and nails. As an adult, Ruth still celebrates these values as an artist and the marketing coordinator for The Scrap Exchange. The nonprofit company collects materials from more than 250 industries within a 100-mile radius, looking to repurpose everything from foam, paper, zippers, test tubes, fabric, and vintage goods into art and craft supplies.
Staffers have aims beyond just reducing waste and promoting environmental awareness: they hope to create a vibrant community. Alongside merchandise, their shop makes room for craft classes, an art gallery, and an artists’ marketplace of items created with discarded materials. Everyone is welcome to work inside a 400-square-foot design center, outfitted with sewing machines, a serger, a die-cut machine, a button-making machine, T-shirt hot press, and more than 300 reference books. The inspirational space earned a feature on Apartment Therapy, as well as Santa's nice list.