About the author: Kelly Chick has worked for EPA for many years. She currently works in the Office of Public Affairs at EPA Headquarters, and manages the EPA blog, Greenversations.
I’ve certainly learned a lot managing the Greenversations blog. I’ve worked here at EPA for longer than I’d care to admit, but it seems I learn something new everyday reading the blog posts and moderating each and every comment submitted. We have had several posts about green building in all of its forms, but not too long ago we posted a blog post from someone who had recently purchased a home, and was in the process of renovating it in the greenest way possible. About this time, I heard about Habitat for Humanity ReStores, and lo and behold there was a sign for one put up in my community in Southern Maryland.
I decided to stop in one Saturday morning and WOW were my eyes opened. It is just getting going and is currently operated out of a barn, but what a treasure trove of goodies. As I walked through, I saw lots of appliances, cabinets, fixtures, windows, shelving, sinks and toilets, tile, carpet remnants, 3,000 gallons of paint and so much more. Most were new, although some were gently used. I decided I needed to know more. I found the store manager and asked him about the ReStore. I found out that all of the items for sale are donated by either local home improvement stores, builders, or regular people like you and me, and are sold at 50-70% off of the retail value (the paint was just $3.00 per gallon). Some of the items (for example, five matching 3’ x 5’ windows) were ordered the wrong size and couldn’t be returned. Donating the items to a charity is a great way to recoup some of the lost expense (as a tax donation), helps others keep their renovating expenses down, and a worthy charity reaps the benefits (in the form of sales). This is a win-win situation if I ever saw one. Not to mention the fact that all of these materials are being spared from going into landfills.
There are many stores that use this model of accepting donations and keeping stuff from being thrown away. Do a search on the web for “recycled building materials” and check out what’s available in your area. By the way, during my conversation I also found out that a store in Virginia helped someone build his house entirely from ReStore purchases. Can you just imagine how much he was able to save. Have you used a source like this for renovations or repairs on your home? Share with us your experience and thoughts about this way of saving “green” while renovating “green”.