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Artists, educators discover treasures at Waste Not Center
Perhaps the old adage explains it best, “Waste Not, Want Not.” At the Waste Not Center, 2830 B Fisher Road, one person’s trash is truly another person’s treasure.
“The Waste Not Center receives donations from businesses and individuals of usable but no longer wanted items,” General Manager Neil Drobny said. “We make these items available to teachers, artists and non-profit organizations who pay a small annual membership fee.”
Members may return to the center throughout the year and take whatever they want with no additional fees.
“The center accomplishes the dual objectives of enabling teachers and others to obtain materials for their work that would otherwise be unaffordable, as well as reducing the burden on local solid waste disposal systems,” Drobny said.
The Waste Not Center has been located on Fisher Road for about five years. Prior to that, it was in another location and was named "ReArt." The center is open regularly on Thursday afternoons and on the second Saturday morning of each month.
“In a day’s time we will put 50 people through here on average,” Drobny said. “The average member takes about 75 pounds of materials, valued at about $300, on a typical shopping trip.”
About a dozen volunteers help keep the supplies neat and sorted and assist the 2,000 members with finding what they need.
A recent visit found a variety of items available for the taking – everything from trophies, books and VHS cassettes to tennis balls, flower vases and mailing tubes.
“Some things we get in we have no idea what they are for, yet there is always somebody thinking outside the box who can find a use for it. Our members tend to be pretty creative people,” Drobny said.
He pointed out a giant bin filled with green plastic tubes, which were intended to be handles for lawn care product spreaders. The design changed, so the manufacturer was stuck with thousands of the finger shaped rubber gadgets. Most people would look at them and declare them useless, Drobny said, but to teachers they are the best finger puppet bases ever.
“Every now and then we will get something people will go ga-ga over,” Drobny said. “You never now what it will be.”
There is always a demand for out-of-season display materials from retail establishments, scrap from manufacturing operations, paper, poster board, carpet squares, pens, folders, markers, containers, vases and envelopes. The Waste Not Center does not take computers, electronics, food, furniture, clothing or sporting equipment.
“One thing we have a lot of is three ring binders,” he laughed. “Every business in town is getting rid of paper records.”
Members come from all over central Ohio to see what treasures they can find. There are others who travel from as far as Mansfield, Zanesville and Springfield.
Joe Rotella, an Upper Arlington resident and part-time artist, visits the Waste Not Center frequently.
“We had an art instructor tell us about it,” Rotella said. “I bet we have donated close to 1,000 pounds of items here.”
Megan Moriarty, a Short North resident, said she has been coming to the Waste Not Center for about four years. She is an artist who also gives lessons, and was excited about finding wire framing for wreaths that she planned to have her students cover in faux animal fur she found in a previous visit.
“You have to be consistent,” Moriarty said. “You have to come here all the time. You have to be creative and not just look at things for what they are.”
A one-year membership costs $35 for a home-schooling family; $45 for a student; $75 for an artist or teacher; $125 for a small non-profit; or $295 for a large non-profit or an entire school building.
“People think it is too good to be true,” Drobny said. “Most anybody who comes in gets their fee back in the first visit.”
For information, visit www.wastenotcenter.org or call 278-9445.
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