Those of you who read this column regularly know about ReCares, the organization that recycles used orthopedic assistance equipment like crutches, wheelchairs, walkers. For a more complete list of their ever changing inventory, see their website, ReCARES.org or HomeCARES.org.
But this particular column is not about them. It's about another place, related in that it makes full use of a multitude of materials you probably discard without giving a second thought.
The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse at 4695 Telegraph in Oakland, is a depot for recyclers and a treasure trove for artists, elementary school teachers, collage makers. The collection of materials there is beyond imagination: toilet paper rollers, pieces of ribbon, thread spools, unused chopsticks, scraps of cloth, just about anything that can be reused and is small enough to hold in your hand. Even sometimes larger pieces like chairs.
I went there soon after New Year's when I wanted to dispose of some old photographs. I had been collecting travel photos for years. Every time I went on a trip I'd have all or most of the pictures I took printed and then I'd mount them in an album dedicated only to that trip. Before long, I had a stack of albums two or three feet high. Too many for any of my shelves, some were stacked on the floor. Not long ago I pulled one of the albums out and glanced through it. "Who are those people?" I wondered as I gazed at a picture. "Oh, yeah, this was that trip to France. Or was it Michigan?" That was when I realized how irrelevant and meaningless these albums were to anything in my current life.
I hauled out a big paper grocery sack and began taking the pictures out of the albums. I examined each one before tossing it into the sack to see if I could use it to make a greeting card. An aside: greeting card blanks, with no design and no message, can be found at Blick Art Materials at Broadway and Broadway Terrace in Oakland, among other art supply stores. Those photos that made the grade went into a stack to the side. Before long I had emptied two albums. Buoyed by this progress, I was energized to continue. It took about 2 1/2 days to go through all the albums and when I was finished, the bag was almost completely full.
I called the East Bay Center for Creative Reuse. Would they take the photos? "Sure, bring them down," they told me. I drove around to the back of the building where I was met by a friendly and energetic young woman who helped me unload them. So now these pictures that had lost their meaning to me can be reborn as part of someone else's creation and I have more shelf and floor space. Thank you, EBCCR.
Check them out: East Bay Center for Creative Reuse
4695 Telegraph Ave.
Coming soon: Passing it On - Part Three