The Wisconsin DNR estimates that approximately 28% of waste entering the municipal solid waste stream is construction and demolition waste. Much of that waste is recyclable or reusable.
If you are participating in construction, remodeling, or demolition, ask your builder to recycle the construction materials. They can become accredited in construction recycling through WasteCap’s training program for builders (http://www.wastecap.org/services/training/).
Building reuse stores have been popping up all over Wisconsin to put reclaimed, reused, and surplus building supplies to use. ReStores in Appleton, Baraboo, Beaver Dam, Cameron, Fond du Lac, Fort Atkinson, Germantown, Green Bay, Hayward, Janesville, La Crosse, Madison, Marinette, Mauston, Milwaukee, New Richmond, Oshkosh, Plymouth, Racine, River Falls, Saint Croix Falls, Sheboygan, Spooner, Sturgeon Bay, Superior, Waukesha, and West Bend are run by Habitat for Humanity. Some neighborhood redevelopment groups also operate stores such as HomeSource and Community Warehouse in Milwaukee. Architectural salvage companies such as I.M. Salvage in Milwaukee have special finds for both home and commercial building and remodeling projects.
The story of the ReStore
The Habitat for Humanity in Dane County opened the first Wisconsin ReStore in 2001. Jen Voichick, Director of the ReStore in Madison, has been a tireless advocate and source of expertise and inspiration to other Habitats across the state through workshops, presentations and personal contact. According to Jen, ìHabitat ReStores provide a great opportunity to reduce waste going to landfills in the state and support affordable housing in our community at the same time.
How it works
Businesses, contractors, and the public donate quality building items they no longer need in new or good condition. According to Matt Maroney, Director of the Milwaukee Builders Association, ReStores are a great tool for contractors and remodelers to save disposal costs while benefiting the community at the same time. The public buys these items for remodeling and home improvement projects at a fraction of the normal price. Revenue from sales is used to support affordable home building and remodeling projects in their community.
Building reuse stores rely on donations and volunteers for their success, so partnerships with builders, contractors, retailers, churches, community organizations and government solid waste agencies are critical. Several stores received waste reduction and recycling grants from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for startup costs.
What to donate
Tools, counters, cabinets, doors, windows, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, flooring, lumber, and furniture in good condition are welcome. Check with individual stores before making a donation. Some salvage businesses offer pre-demolition walk-throughs to identify things that can be reused. This can save a lot of money on disposal costs.
Remodeling your home on a tight budget
Everyone likes a bargain! For your next home improvement project, visit your local reuse store to see if they have what you want. The cost savings are significant and may allow you to do more within your budget or start your project sooner. Reuse stores may have unique or antique fixtures that match your home décor better than new ones.
If you go
Call ahead to verify the store’s business hours – some are not open daily in winter months. Some allow you to preview the current inventory by visiting a web site.
All of us! By rethinking what we use and what we throw away from homes and businesses, we help keep useful items out of the landfill, improve housing in our communities, and conserve resources for future generations.