As a Regional Manager for The Reuse People (TRP), I help to fulfill the organization’s mission to reduce building-materials waste, an involvement that stems from my interest in the varied benefits of building-materials reuse, and in my enthusiasm for improving local communities and the environment.
Having your home remodeled, or torn down, for a rebuild is a daunting task. For sure, it is disruptive to the normal ebb and flow of daily routine. There are many details to keep track of, large and small.
Adding to this challenge, TRP asks you, the property owner, to consider salvaging the building materials as an alternative to having them end up in the local landfill. Replacing demolition with deconstruction for a remodel or rebuild certainly adds a wrinkle to the project. I’d like to share why entertaining and embracing that wrinkle is worthwhile.
Anyone who scans the news on a smartphone app, or listens to or watches traditional news, will at some point be exposed to a story on our environmental challenges. The news always sounds overwhelming, the hurdles insurmountable. But the truth is, we can make decisions and take actions that surmount those hurdles. Our actions may not be as visible as the STOP sign on the nearest corner, but their impact is real. And our neighbors, as well as the planet, benefit.
For starters, every fixture we can redirect from the landfill is significant. Landfills detract from the quality of the air, water, and soil. Salvaging a vanity cabinet, a refrigerator, or a ceiling light reduces further contamination. By actively pursuing deconstruction, we are improving the quality of our lives, our neighbors’ lives, and the community at large.
Furthermore, reusing building materials puts community members to work. Employed citizens are notable assets. They buy local goods, develop skills to assist friends and family, and raise the vitality of entire neighborhoods.
Salvaged and donated materials boost the quality of our living spaces. An apartment owner who wants to freshen up a rental unit when it turns over can upgrade economically by installing used materials. Both the owner and the renter benefit. Property owners on limited budgets can enhance their homes and living conditions with used materials.
As a donor of used building materials – a responsible owner who chooses deconstruction over demolition – you need to “right-size” your expectations. Although your benevolence will not be recognized in a print or online news article, what you will possess is the awareness that you have reduced landfill waste, moved air, water and soil quality in a positive direction, and improved the lives of people in your community – all outcomes to be truly proud of.