California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Reuse Organization Profiles

Art From Scrap (AFS)

OverviewGirl with doll made from scraps.

Art From Scrap (AFS) is a nonprofit organization in Santa Barbara, California. AFS has many faces, which include a materials reuse store, an environmental education program, an arts center, and a community outreach program. Through field trips and special events, AFS educates school children and the public about the waste reduction methods of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Compost. AFS also practices reuse by taking donations of by-products, old inventory, and other materials destined for landfill, from local businesses, and individuals. The donated materials are reused by students to make art projects during their Waste Reduction field trips and by the community when they participate in AFS and other community art workshops. In addition, donated materials are made available to local schools and organizations, and are for sale to the public in the Reuse retail store. AFS merges environmental awareness with creativity to encourage solutions to environmental problems.


AFS began in 1990 as a volunteer effort of a group of Santa Barbara parents who recognized the value of unwanted materials. The concept was to provide art supplies to students while promoting the practices of reduce, reuse, and recycle. In 1995 AFS became a program of the CEC. With support and assistance from the Santa Barbara County Education Office, the City of Santa Barbara, the County of Santa Barbara, and the community, AFS has developed into a comprehensive art and reuse program serving over 20,000 people each year with a variety of services.


AFS operations fall into several categories.

"Tin man" made from scrap paperMaterials Reuse Store

The Reuse retail store is open to the public five days a week. Donations arrive daily at AFS, and includes a wide variety of items such as cards, fabric and textile scraps, glass and plastic test tubes, boxes, wire, foam, and many other types of doodads. In addition to being sold at the store, some items go to the workshop for reuse by children and adults on field trips and during art workshops. Approximately 30,000 pounds of plastic, wood, metal, glass, paper, and miscellaneous items are diverted from landfill every year through donations to AFS.

Environmental Education Program

Waste Reduction field trips take place every week at AFS, which include a tour of the AFS store to see the variety of materials donated–items other people and businesses did not want. In the education area students learn about where all the AFS materials would go if AFS did not exist. In other words, what happens to our trash? By talking about recycling, reusing, and composting, students learn ways they can reduce the amount of trash that goes to landfills. Students also apply what they have learned by reusing workshop materials in a self-directed art project. Approximately 10,000 students participate in AFS educational presentations each year.

Arts Center

Art is incorporated into all of the AFS Waste Reduction presentations, giving students the opportunity to be creative with alternative types of materials. Public Art Workshops are held every Saturday, and also on Wednesdays in the summer. During the workshops participants can create their own art projects or work with AFS staff directed projects such as masks, dream catchers, puppets, and sea creatures. The art workshop is also rented out for private parties.

AFS holds an annual Assemblage Art Show and auction each year, celebrating the amazing talents of local artists to create art from scrap. The show also serves as inspiration to students working in the art workshop.

Community Outreach Program

AFS supplies materials and staff to a variety of local organizations to include free art activities at their community events. Materials are also donated to groups working with at-risk youth to support their art programs and to supply them with materials for their operations.

AFS also offers volunteer opportunities for local high school students, students in the Teen Court program, and community members.

Materials Accepted Source of Materials Collection Services Geographic
Service Area
Available at AFS include, but are not limited to: Adhesive Materials, Art Supplies, Baskets, Boxes, Burlap Sacks, Calendars, Cards, Ceramic Tiles, Circuit Boards, Clear Plastic Pouches, Colored Tape, Containers of all Kinds, Envelopes, Eyeglass Lenses and Frames, Fabric, Fantastic Plastic, Film Canisters, Glass Pebbles, Holiday Decorations, Jewelry, Magnets, Maps, Matte Board, Mirrors, Mylar, Paper, Paint Cans, Picture Frames, Picture Frame Glass, Plastic Shavings, Plastic Tubing, Rope, Scientific Glassware, Seeds, Small Glass Jars, Three Ring Binders, Webbing, Wire, Wood All of the materials used in the AFS program are donated. Materials may be industrial by-products, flawed items, rejects, and inventory clear-outs. From hospitals to coffee houses, sign makers, and interior designers–many regional businesses and community members keep AFS in mind before throwing anything away. The AFS van picks-up donations on a limited basis and donations may be dropped off at the store during open hours. Pick-up service is available on a limited basis. Please call for details. Central Coast of California.

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Last updated: May 23, 2014
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