Reduce, Reuse, Restore
Earth-conscious Austinites turn Lamar Union Plaza into donation party
On Earth Day, while most Austinites picked up litter and contemplated new ways to reduce their carbon footprint, Lamar Union Plaza did the opposite of what shopping malls usually do. Instead of selling anything new, it hosted a donation drive.
Residents of Lamar Union Apartments, other Zilker neighbors, and Austinites from all over town came out to donate their gently used items to The ReStore, the secondhand store operated by Austin Habitat for Humanity.
Thanks to this event, The ReStore collected fashion, electronics, books, home goods and more, prolonging the lifespans of those objects and providing future revenue to support the nonprofit.
"We were thrilled to partner with an organization like ReStore," says Plaza property manager Drew Cable, of Cable Partners, Inc. "Not only do they help us keep our items out of the landfill and from creating further waste, but ReStore also repurposes and sells the items to raise funds. They directly help local Austin families work with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes. It's a win-win."
In return for their donations, attendees received reusable, branded canvas bags and special discounts from four businesses in the plaza: Tiny Pies, Kalologie 360 Spa, Restore Hyper Wellness, and Mandala Kitchen and Bar.
Alongside the businesses that pledged donation incentives, the collection was made possible by two corporate sponsors: Heather Cooke of Chicago Title Austin, and Sean Condon of First United Mortgage. The Zilker Neighborhood Association also joined as a community partner, and CultureMap sponsored.
While Lamar Union Plaza does dedicate some of its space to retail, it also contains 442 residential units, multiple restaurants and health destinations, and the original Alamo Drafthouse. Most of its offerings are service-based — that is, not as antithetical to thrifting as one might expect from a shopping center.
Austin Habitat Restore has two locations in Austin (Ben White and South First; Lake Creek Parkway and 183), and one in San Marcos, with huge and sometimes surprising selections of building materials, home decor, and other goodies.
It also operates stores on Amazon, eBay, and its own website, making it easy to buy goods that support building efforts without ever even leaving home.
Just like nothing is really new in fashion, Austinites understand that what was too weird for one person often becomes a treasure for someone else.