Recycling junk into art supplies

social entrepreneurs good garbage

Lynn Quire was a seamstress who "generated a lot of scrap material" but didn't want to throw it away.

But when she searched for places to donate leftover items like fabric and fasteners, she couldn't find any in her hometown of Louisville, Ky.

So in 2013, she quit her administrative job and launched a nonprofit that collects garbage -- although Quire prefers to call it "reusable material."

"I spoke to many teachers and learned that there was a big need for materials for their arts and crafts projects," said Quire, who donates the supplies to local schools and community centers.

She opened a warehouse in November 2013 and within six months, her inventory grew to 3,000 pounds -- with items ranging from wrapping paper to old calendars to spare industrial parts.

"Last year we took in 9,000 pounds of material," said Quire, who runs the operation with her husband and volunteers. "It's available for free to teachers and for a very nominal charge to anybody else."

Her business is almost in the black, and Quire hopes to move Good Garbage into a bigger space in the spring.

"Eventually I want to have multiple facilities in the region and help keep this stuff out of landfills," she said.

First published May 22, 2015: 1:40 PM ET

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