For over 30 years the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse (“The Depot”) has been a leading pioneer in the field of reuse. The Depot was founded in the late 1970s by a group of Oakland Unified School District teachers for the purpose of providing ecological, reused supplies at low-cost to educators with dwindling budgets. In 1993, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (now StopWaste.org) awarded the Depot a major service contract to operate Project Create (an environmental education program) and Trash to Treasures (an annual junk art contest), and funded these programs until 2004.
In 1997 the San Francisco Foundation provided capacity building funds to hire an Executive Director, Linda Levitsky, who is now in her 12th year at the Depot. In 2002 Ms. Levitsky was named “Woman of the Year” in the Environment category by Alameda County.
In 2007 the Depot relocated to Oakland’s Temescal District. The site was chosen for its urban setting, and its accessibility from many locations, freeways, and public transportation. The new retail location has allowed The Depot to be more successful than ever in serving teachers, students, artists, non-profit groups, and families in the East Bay and beyond. The building itself is a model of sustainable construction (“green building”). We conducted an extensive remodel of the site using salvaged wood and windows, energy-efficient lighting, and on-demand water heaters, and removed the asbestos flooring. “Green” Architect David Arkin provided his services at a discounted rate, and the renovations were funded in part by StopWaste.org. The intent was to provide a model and inspiration for other businesses and individuals to use “green” practices in their construction.
The Depot's Programs
The Depot’s primary activities involve collecting discarded materials by donation from businesses, manufacturers, and the general public, keeping the materials out of the landfill, and offering them for sale in the Depot Store. Our target customers are teachers, artists and households to which we sell supplies at low cost. Our staff offers hands-on education and advice to teachers and others on how to utilize reused materials in the classroom and at home. The Depot diverts approximately 200 tons of reusable material from the landfills each year.
The Depot also provides ecological arts and crafts activities for public school students, recreation programs, and community events through our Special Events community education program and Art-in-the-Heart after-school art program. In recent years a curbside pickup contract with the Central Contra County Solid Waste Authority has made it possible for us to distribute discarded winter clothing and other humanitarian aid supplies to crisis areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Mississippi, as well as local rural communities.
The Depot serves the following:
- The Depot Store serves approximately 36,000 customers per year in our store
- The Depot accepts donations from thousands of customers, businesses, industry and manufacturers, diverting their discarded materials from the landfill
- Our Art in the Heart after-school program in the Richmond public schools brings hands-on arts and environmental education to 180 elementary school children each year
- Our Special Events community art education program reaches over 20,000 participants per year
- The Depot participates in municipal art shows, conferences, and seminars
- The Depot collects materials for humanitarian aid relief and distributes them locally, nationally and internationally, serving tens of thousands of recipients
- Within a 3 mile radius of the Depot’s new location are 70 schools, serving thousands of teachers and students