Warehouse reuses creative materials

Paper, pens, wood scraps -- even books and magazines... some companies call that junk. But instead of being trashed, they are becoming some students' treasures.

A south side warehouse is home to hundreds of items whose destiny could've been a dumpster.

"The idea is to recover usable materials from businesses, industrial users and find creative ways to repurpose that material," explained Aaron Trulley, executive director of The Resource Center which operates The Creative Reuse Warehouse. "We get a lot of artists and a lot of teachers who find use and value in these materials."

There you can find items ranging from wrapping paper and curly ribbons to carpet samples and toy pegs.

"It's a good way to sort of stare our wastefulness in the face, but not only that to find that there really are creative ways to use these materials to keep them out of landfills," said Trulley.

Anyone can come and shop. For about ten cents on the dollar of the retail price and a little creativity, one can save intact items from a trip to the trash.

The Brainforest ad agency in Wicker Park runs a similar operation -- but with a few restrictions. They collect donations only from other businesses in their industry. They call the program "creative pitch."

Dian Sourelis, who is a partner at Brainforest and the organizer of Creative Pitch said, "A really good example is a paper company. Printers and paper mills tend to have extra paper after a job is finished printing or they might discontinue a kind of paper and we're not talking about little pieces of paper. We're talking about large sheets of high-quality beautiful paper, tons of it."

That paper would normally be recycled or thrown away. This program redirects it -- allowing art teachers working with underserved students to shop for free.

"They think they're gonna come and just take a few little things and leave and when they come and see the bounty that is there and realize they could fill an SUV up with materials for their students we get hugs, we get kisses, we get tears, we get thanks," said Sourelis.

The folks who run creative pitch say they dedicate their efforts solely to art teachers in low-income areas because many of those teachers don't get any supplies from their schools or community centers.



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