Make art with a big impact and a small footprint.
reuse, repurpose and recycle supplies for school, art, craft & office
Explore these resources to find materials or to donate materials around Chicago:
art & design & school supplies
a storefront in Chicago that sells reclaimed art supplies at low prices. They accept donations, too. Check out their workshops on mending clothes, making crafts and more.
provides free surplus & outdated architectural and interior design samples for teachers, artists, students and arts educators at semi-annual exchanges in Chicago. Look for interesting fabric, wallpaper, tile, glass, metal, carpet, laminates and more. They also have binders, books, matboard and foamcore.
accepts art supplies, office supplies and other materials, then donates them to Chicago teachers.
provides free art supplies to art educators, art therapists and other professionals in need. They offer graphic design supplies including crayons, pens, paper, paint, brushes, canvas, glue, scissors, rulers, clay and more. Donations are accepted. To receive supplies, apply on their website.
collects used art, craft and school supplies and games (and suitcases!) that they clean, sort and distribute to schools and youth groups around the world. They have several drop off locations in Chicago.
offers a wide range of supplies for schools, including art supplies, paper, furniture and books for teachers and non-profts. Find out about making donations and how to get materials for your school. (Located in in Glen Ellyn.)
sells salvaged building materials, large and small, including lumber, windows, drawer pulls, sinks, faucets, mirrors and lots more– in Chicago. And– they offer classes to help you make your own stuff with wood.
sells donated (often new) building supplies, furniture and appliances– in Chicago. Sales benefit Habitat for Humanity and their work to build homes in Chicago.
sells a wide variety of salvaged building materials, including lumber, flooring, windows, plumbing and lots more– in Evanston. They host a series of architecture workshops, too.
sells wood from the urban forest. They have lumber salvaged from storm- and insect-damaged trees; species include ash, maple and other trees with beautiful grain.
useful things & oddities
sells an always interesting variety of laboratory glass, electronic bits, science kits and other “incredible stuff” for “discovery and invention”. It’s fun to explore in their stores in Chicago, Milwaukee and the suburbs, and their online store.
has lots of zero waste programs, including a recycling center. The home of Creative Reuse Warehouse, a resource for finding salvaged art and craft supplies, which has several open houses a year and is also open by appointment.
sells a constantly changing inventory of industrial leftovers and oddities, including flooring from basketball courts, snowfencing, parachutes, bowling shoe sole rubber, giant brushes and more. It’s fun to look at their site; they have warehouses in Kankakee and other parts of the country.
provides an online marketplace for people to buy and sell all kinds of things, with digital hubs around the world.
provides an online forum for members to exchange materials for free, with digital communities all over the world.
often have great materials for making art. Check out your local second-hand store!
Outside the Chicago region
search for ‘creative reuse centers’, ‘zero landfill’ or ‘architectural salvage’ to start searching for something in your area.
Many of these organizations need volunteers to keep things going. Maybe you can help them out?
Most of these organizations are on facebook, instagram & twitter, too. They often have more information– and pictures of their latest stock on social media.
recycling information for other materials
For information about recycling in Chicago:
is the City’s official recycling information page; it’s very helpful and kinda fun. It includes a useful guide (with good photos of what can be recycled), a quiz for testing your knowledge and more.
has been working on improving waste disposal options in Chicago for decades. Explore their resources and get involved.
look up local recycling locations for specific materials.
find options for bulk collection of unusual materials, primarily packing for food and toiletries.
You may be surprised to find what can be repurposed. Whenever disposing of something, check these sites to see if the material is collected for recycling or repurposing. Ask questions before you deliver or send your materials to find out how they will be used.
download this list:
last updated October 2018