Rebuilding with Recycling

After putting off both an alignment and an oil change for the past few weeks, I finally set up the Midas appointment for my day off today. Upon dropping off my car, the manager told me to expect a two hour wait before this was all completed. Initially, my eyes widened- two hours of sitting in an uncomfortable auto shop?!- but then I remembered seeing a Curt’s Café a little less than a mile away, and figured I could use the steps. (I swear, this little piece of technology makes me do things I never considered before just by tampering with my competitive side.)

On this lovely fifty, cloudy, and windy Wednesday, I started my trek down Dempster for a warm cup of Earl Grey. About ¾ of a mile into my walk, I noticed a building to my left I hadn’t seen before, called “Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse.” I have been trying to take courses at the Rebuild Exchange in Chicago, without realizing a sister store was open right in my own town. Given I had another hour and fifth minutes to kill, I decided to stop in.

This place was like a secondhand home depot! I’ve never done any major home renovations, but I’ve certainly been to my share of home improvement stores, moving sales, and estate sales geared towards deconstruction. There is different sections for every home improvement need here, from doors, to windows, to tiles, to bathrooms, and so on.





From apartment renting experience alone, I can attest to how expensive moving, decorating, and just general purchasing needs can be for a new place. I can’t imagine all the costs that come along with purchasing a home that has needs other than basic decorating and fixtures. Buying some sort of these bigger products secondhand helps keep prices affordable so that everyone can purchase, decorate, and design a home they love.

While most of this blog has thus far discussed purchasing secondhand, I would like to briefly discuss how impressed I was with the sustainability aspect of Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse. First off, they hold their own classes and advertise other opportunities to teach people how to repair instead of replacing their old or broken possessions. So much waste is created with the “buy new” mentality, and I am certainly not exempt from doing this in the past (and truthfully the present when the repair seems too difficult or too expensive). Buying new is admittedly initially easier, and honestly I didn’t consider repair very much at all before realizing the cost savings a few years ago. We are taught so many different things in life, in school, etc. but rarely is the discussion about repairing what we already own to help our bank accounts and the environment ever put on the table.


Second, this company works with volunteers and job training programs to run most of their projects, thus creating a sustainable employment practice while also training persons to be effective community members. Their mission as a nonprofit organization is to divert building materials out of landfills by promoting both sustainable deconstruction and building practices that keep home renovation affordable to everyone. All of these factors help to nurture individual, community, and economic growth for Evanston. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

The more involved I become in creating this website, the more interested I am in being aware of just how many materials go into our waste stream. Even just basic research becomes daunting when we look at how much damage we do to our planet. I was listening to the Food Revolution series a few weeks ago, and John Robbins (author of Diet for a New America) stated “It’s such an irony when we say “Save The Planet.” The truth is, the planet will always be here, its just not going to be livable for us.”  This is so very true, and an idea we rarely take the time to consider.

We simply can’t do everything. But the saying is true- everyone can do something. Writing about and exploring ways to make purchasing and using secondhand items fun and practical is a goal I enjoy working towards.  Hopefully this will help promote sustainability all around, with the goal of not leaving our future generations in a worse mess than what we have already created.  Companies like Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse give me hope that we are making more progress than is advertised in our often dismal media outlets.


P.S. Did you know doll head décor is a thing? Google it. There were a few bins at the warehouse today that initially made me cringe, but at $5 a head these must be fairly valuable to someone. I think I would still be too scared to sleep anywhere near one of these, but I am impressed with the level of creativity with this trend!

doll heads

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