One man's junk... Photo by Erik Anderson
It doesn't bear thinking about. This tray for making heart-shaped ice cubes (50 cents), that "Tamales of the World" poster (two for $3), the pile of fabric swatches over yonder- what would have become of them if not for the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse? The Temescal neighborhood donation center/junk store was started in 1979 by a pair of teachers as a place where educators could find cheap classroom supplies. It's since become a mecca for the creative, the industrious and the very, very cheap. We're talking shelves and buckets of loosely organized ephemera, priced at costs that encourage you to stock up on... whatever. Turkey basters to vintage postcards.
But East Bay Depot is more than just a thrift shopper's wet dream. It is also the site of a massive project in trash diversion- over 200 tons a year rescued from becoming landfill muck through donations from individuals, manufacturers and businesses. They've even got a partnership with the Contra Costa county solid waste authority that shunts items that have been dumped curbside right into your grubby little, deal-seeking mitts.
Win-win? Actually, it's more win-win-win. The Depot "has been approved by the Department of Defense to ship to any area that is in need of humanitarian aide," says director Linda Levitsky. The center has sent shipments including warm used clothing and blankets to Contra Costa homeless shelters, cast-off parkas to Pakistan and job training supplies to Afghani women. Levitsky is currently in planning with Rep. Barbara Lee's office to ship a 24-foot trailer of shoes to Haiti. "Shoes are needed in Haiti with all the rubble. It seems like the logical thing to do," says Levitsky.
So humor your inner pack rat and do something swell for the global community. Drop by the store this month for a recent shipment of light fixtures, garden tools and sewing equipment, including some older pieces of vintage costume flair from the 1970s and ‘80s.
East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse
4695 Telegraph, Oakland