The WasteShed celebrates reuse and smashes their own collection records


Eleanor Ray goes through some bins of fabric

The 3.5 tons of donated art, craft and school materials, in first quarter 2018, has smashed all quarter collection records for four-year-old The WasteShed, 2842 W. Chicago Ave.

Saving items from landfill while providing affordable materials to teachers, artists, students and other creative people has been a passion, for years, of Eleanor Ray, The WasteShed's Founder and Executive Director. In this new 2,000 plus square foot location, The WasteShed, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, can not only stock more materials but it has more space for workshops and events. 


A group of teachers was having a strategy meeting in the workshop space

More than 170 people attended 22 workshops and events since 2018 began. "These activities are fun and often let out people's inner creative," explains Ray, "but, they often include discussions about how we live our lives. 

"For example, we are doing a parody on the popular 'Drink and Paint' (DP) events. Ours is called 'Drink and Repaint.' We have dozens of ugly canvases from DP locations and we are suggesting to our participants that they improve the originals, make them worse or paint them a solid color. 

"Our Radical Mending nights is a chance to come in to mend your clothes or put on buttons while others do the same. In some cases this becomes a basic sewing class," says Ray. "But more comes out of these sessions. People talk about what it means to have family experiences or share stories about things they remember from their childhood." 


Ray works at the front desk

On a shopping expedition, a teacher brought in a high school class that was assigned to create a product prototype using pieces from other products. The teacher reported back later that the materials really inspired the kids to think differently about making something "new." 

Clearly more than a shop to buy things while saving the planet, the WasteShed is a place for learning, inspiring and creating community for all ages. 

"Remember," says Ray, "every time you get something at the thrift store instead of buying it online or at a big-box store, you're giving the planet a high-five." 

Located one block west of California at 2842 W. Chicago Ave., their hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and their phone number is 773.666.5997. Their programming and events can be tracked on Facebook and Instagram.


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