Nonprofit repurposes waste to inspire creativity and innovation

In order to educate the next generation of inventors, engineers and scientists, one nonprofit is repurposing manufacturers' clean waste to inspire creativity.

Trash For Teaching (T4T) is a nonprofit aimed at encouraging STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) education through providing children with upcycled materials to create and build.

T4T works with manufacturers to collect large quantities of unwanted or unusable excess materials. Items can range from expired pill bottles to bolt ends of fabric to any factory mistakes that would otherwise go in the trash.

The materials are sent to T4T's warehouse where it is sorted and repackaged into smaller quantities that are available for purchase. So far the organization has collected 461 tons (922,000 pounds) of clean waste.

Leah Hanes, executive director of Two Bit Circus Foundation, the organization that runs T4T, said, "We are desperate to take everything because we know the value of it out there in the hands of young inventors."

T4T has two warehouses in California (Gardena and Fresno) where the materials can be purchased by the public and educators. The warehouses also host spontaneous creation sessions where kids can come to build and create using T4T's materials.

Two Bit Circus and T4T also package their materials into STEAM labs that are available for schools. STEAM labs are equipped with tools, upcycled materials and re-purposed shelving. Students and teachers are empowered to design and build the labs themselves.

"We are raising children who will have jobs in careers that don't yet exist, so we can't really train them for that," said Hanes. "We have to train them to be good thinkers, to be problem solvers, to creatively and critically think their way through a situation."
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