Last week a colleague and I went to the Creative Reuse Warehouse located on the south-side of Chicago. My husband did not want me to go because it is located in a not-so-nice neighborhood. But after viewing the pictures on the website, I HAD to go. From the website photos, it looked like there was a veritable treasure trove of goodies I could purchase for my classroom.
Here is the photo from their website:
Because I've been in the Chicago area educational system for 8 years and had never heard of it before, I was certain it wasn't as elaborate as Reggio Emilia's Remida or St. Louis's Teacher's Recycle Center. But I still had high hopes.
We planned a great day. First we were heading to the recycle center and then it was off to Columbia College for the Hundred Languages Exhibit.
Well, we ended up driving right past the recycle center and into a marina off the Calumet River. Whoops! How did we miss it? Perhaps because it looked like this (from Google maps):
We were not sure the building wasn't abandoned. We had to ring a bell to get in and they promptly locked the door behind us. I'm telling you, I wish I had thought to take a photo inside. I think I was too traumatized to remember. There were two areas, the indoor office-type part and a large warehouse in the back. It was filled with garbage, and not the kind I could think anyone could reuse. We didnt want to touch anything because we were afraid of catching a disease. The entire place was full of musty and moldy boxes and smelled accordingly. There were droppings everywhere too. I had a headache for the rest of the day which I attribute to the air quality inside.
Most of the boxes were large and set on shelves too high to see into. The only thing we thought was interesting was a tall roll of bubble wrap but I didn't want to purchase it as I was sure something was living inside and it would have to be disinfected. I suppose an artist could find things of use if they were so inclined to spend copious amounts of time cleaning them (like greasy nuts and bolts), but these items were not suitable for use by children.
I feel like I was misled by the Creative Reuse Warehouse website. I would recommend all teachers to stay home and not to waste their precious time. I feel like I was robbed of what should have been, and could be, a great resource for Chicago area teachers.
On a positive note, our building has a large closet that we are dedicating to making our own center-wide recycling center. I'm hoping to make this happen in the next two weeks.
Wish me luck: