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Evanston's new WasteShed will sell discount art supplies to spark creativity; protect environment.

Evanston teachers, crafters, artists, and, well, anyone who's looking to get creative: get ready because Evanston's WasteShed opens its doors from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Saturday, November 20.

The store, described as a creative reuse center, will be housed at Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, 1245 Hartrey, and will offer gently used arts, craft, and office supplies at low cost to anyone who needs them.

It's the second location for the group; its original location is at 2842 W Chicago Avenue.

Eleanor Ray, founder and executive director of The WasteShed, discovered creative reuse as an installation and costume artist, and developed her ideas at SCRAP PDX. She was also General Manager of the Creative Reuse Warehouse, and spearheaded their collaboration with the ReBuilding Exchange before founding The WasteShed in 2014.

Ray's vision, now the organization's mission is to provide an organized, affordable, and reliable resource for repurposed art, craft, and school materials, and with a dynamic center for activities related to sustainability, art, craft, education, and material culture.

The organization will connect Evanstonians who are interested in:

  • living more sustainably

  • seeking inspiration in unconventional materials

  • getting the most out of the resources they have on hand

  • or just making projects at a low cost.

Emily Saiter, WS director of operations who has spearheaded the opening of the Evanston location, says that while the WasteShed's primary goal is environmental sustainability, it's also about providing affordable materials to spark creativity and encourage economical, fun hands-on activities as points of entry into larger discussions about the things we own, and the way we live.

The organization will offer fine art materials at 25 percent to 50 percent off their regular price. Teachers with a valid ID get 25 percent off their entire order, and there is a section of materials-- including items such as binders, folders, office supplies, and bulletin board materials--that are free to all educators, regardless of whether one has an ID. Day care professionals and after-school supervisors are welcome to these materials.

"You can also get items like a handful of crayons for 50 cents or markers for 10 cents each," says Saiter.

According to its website, between 2018 and 2021, the WasteShed's Chicago location has provided more than $13,532 of free materials to teachers through its Free to Teachers section, and an additional $79,524 of deeply discounted materials to educators. While doing that, it's diverted over 160,000 pounds of reusable materials away from the landfill and back into Chicago's creative and educational communities.

"The WasteShed is an incredible resource and we’re so fortunate to have a location in Evanston," says Melissa Molitor, an Evanston parent, artist, activist, and educator who co-founded Studio 3 with fellow artist-educator Angela Lyonsmith. "Their mission is impactful on many levels, from environmental action to equitable access to materials. We’re excited to have another community partner to help break down barriers to the arts by making creative reuse available to artists and makers."

Dereka LeTese is a mother and entrepreneur with her own line of t-shirts. She also founded Reviving Our Youth, an organization to encourage young people to take breaks from technology and pursue other activities.

She said the WasteShed is a great addition because art supplies are hard to come by affordably.

"And as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure," Dereka said.

Casey Christensen, a local artist, has been volunteering at the WasteShed as it prepares to open.

"One night we painted the walls. The next time we were putting together shelving. The last time I was there, one of my tasks was to test out every single marker to make sure they all worked. I got through two large containers," she said. "I'm excited for Evanston. I think this will be a great resource for the whole community. I can’t wait to see what they have on their shelves."

If you're looking to donate items, you can do so by appointment by emailing the organization.

They're also looking for volunteers, so if creative reuse is your jam, email them too.

Thank you, Casey Christensen for contributing to this story.


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