New Albany Renewal

New Albany Renewal is intended to serve as a repository for ideas relevant to preserving and restoring historic buildings, cleaning up neighboorhoods, revitalizing downtown, and improving the quality of life in New Albany, Indiana.

Location: New Albany, Indiana

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cash for Trash

Encouraged by cheap and plentiful consumer goods we are becoming more and more of a throwaway society each year. According to author Stacy Mitchell in Big-Box Swindle the amount of trash that we generate has doubled since the mid-1980's.

Many of our discards have a lot of life left in them and where some see a trash problem others see an opportunity.

In the spirit of asset-based thinking some enterprising nonprofit organizations have been raising funds by running thrift shops stocked with donated merchandise for years. The latest nonprofit venture of this type seems to be salvage stores selling discarded or unused building materials that have been donated. It's a great way for an organization to turn trash into cash and encourage re-use and recycling.

In Louisville Habitat for Humanity is taking advantage of this new trend with their Habitat Re-store.

I have run across several mentions of salvage stores hiring artists and desingers to turn some of their donations into art, furniture, and household or garden decorations. Their ideas inspire customers to re-use creatively.

The December/January issue of Hoticulture profiled Building REsources a combination junkyard, idea store, and art gallery run by a nonprofit, San Francisco Community Recyclers. The business sells more than 12,000 tons of goods each year--discards that would otherwise end up in landfills.

The artist/manager, Matthew Levesque, is known for his imaginative use of discarded materials in gardens. He contrives containers, fountains, and sculptures out of trash.

He has also developed a creative re-use for window glass which was not selling and could not be recycled. Levesque tumbles window glass into 3/4" to 1 1/2 " pebbles that are smooth enough to walk on. This "beach glass" can be used for paths and as mulch. Chipped and broken terra-cotta pots are broken and tumbled into terra-cotta pebbles.

The BuildingREsources website has information about their store as well as the educational programs that are offered.

Here is the website for Horticulture although I couldn't find the article I referred to online.