Mission & History

SCRAP’s mission is to inspire creativity and environmental stewardship in children and adults through promoting the creative reuse of materials that traditionally have been discarded as waste.

Founded in 1976 and based in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, SCRAP works at the intersection of the arts, arts education and the environment. Our mission is to put the materials and methods of art-making in reach for everyone, helping people turn everyday objects into creative projects that fuel the human spirit, support community vibrancy and reinforce environmental awareness. Each year SCRAP’s programs serve over 33,000 people with circular access to creative materials and  services at our depot and in the community—all while diverting 200+ tons of waste from landfill. 

The 250 tons of materials SCRAP diverts each year is equal in weight to 25 school busses (without the children, of course!)


In the 1970s, the Neighborhood Arts Program of the San Francisco Arts Commission received a grant to place professional artists in schools. Our founder, Anne Marie Theilen, was in charge of this program and oversaw a group of over 140 teaching artists. Unfortunately, there was no budget for materials, so the artists struggled to find supplies for their classroom.

Meanwhile, many local businesses were filling landfills with items that were perfectly usable for artwork, such as paper with the wrong logo on it, fabric samples from interior designers, industrial discards, product overruns and other materials. Anne Marie realized there was an opportunity to solve both problems with one solution, and formed SCRAP in 1976. She teamed up with the famous San Francisco artist, Ruth Asawa, who became Board President.

SCRAP, the nation’s oldest creative reuse center now diverts around 250 tons of materials every year. Inspired by SCRAP’s model, hundreds of creative reuse centers around the world have been established to reduce what is discarded in every corner of the globe.

The reusable supplies we divert from the waste stream end up in the hands of tens of thousands of educators, students, artists, and nonprofits throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Our creative reuse programming includes workshops for teachers, students, and creative souls from every walk of life, Free Teachers’ Supplies Give-Aways, school field trips, art tables at community events, and exhibitions of art made from reclaimed materials. All of our activities educate, reuse materials, and inspire creativity.

SCRAP is grateful for major support from San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco Department of the Environment, Altamont EAB, Vital Projects Fund, and hundreds of individual and business donors. If you would like to join them in supporting SCRAP, please click HERE to learn about the many ways you can help us continue and grow our programs.

Scrap is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our TIN is 94-2566798. Your gifts of materials or money to SCRAP are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.