by Donna Poehner
I’m not a pack rat (I’ve lived with a couple, so I know one when I see one), but I do tend to hang onto things too long. I think it’s because I don’t want to waste anything. Sure, I take clothes and small household items to Goodwill. That’s easy. But what do you do if you need to recycle something bigger, like, say, your kitchen cabinets? Or what if your 1950s knotty-pine paneling doesn’t look right with that sleek entertainment center you just got at Ikea? (And, trust me, it doesn’t). But that paneling is solid wood, not particleboard—can you bear to just toss it in a dumpster? Or maybe you just bought a Craftsman-style bungalow with the original woodwork still intact. But the last time you saw light fixtures like these was in Saturday Night Fever. And yet you know these materials and fixtures deserve a chance at a new life. What can you do?
You can donate them. One option is Habitat for Humanity’s Restore (608) 661-2813. They support Habitat for Humanity of Dane County while also keeping materials out of the landfills. So go ahead and donate your saleable, used building materials such as cabinets, lighting and plumbing fixtures, doors, lumber, flooring, and windows. For more information on how to donate to ReStore see www.restoredane.org/donations. They prefer that you drop off the materials, if possible, as part of your donation, but they also pick up. The Habitat ReStore Deconstruction Team will also take care of removing materials from your home or business. Call the deconstruction manager, Frank Byrne, at (608) 661-2813 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course, don’t think of ReStore only when you need to recycle something. If you’re in the market for economical building supplies, ReStore should be at the top of your list. Not only will you help Madison’s environment, you’ll save money. And maybe you’ll discover an antique doorknob or other treasure at ReStore that you’d never find on the shelves at Lowe’s or Home Depot.
You also have other options in the Madison area if you’re looking to recycle building materials or acquire some on the cheap or even free. Check out The Madison Stuff Exchange to see if anyone in the area needs your used building materials. You can also easily hunt for anything you might need on their searchable site. A recent search of the site turned up local folks wanting or offering bricks, treated lumber, plywood, washing machines, air conditioners, and Douglas fir flooring.
Madison Freecycle is another option. Their mission is to reduce waste by saving precious resources, thereby easing the burden on landfills, while enabling their members to benefit from the strength of a larger community. Everything offered through Freecycle is free.
And don’t forget the old standby, Craigslist.com. You can sell your unwanted building materials here, or you can pick up some bargains for your remodeling project.
I haven’t done any remodeling on a large scale, but I did replace a ceiling fan. Of course, I couldn’t bear to throw the old one out. It still worked although its motor wasn’t as zippy as the new one’s. So I put it in the trunk of my car to take to ReStore (a year ago), where it still is. Okay, maybe I am a pack rat. But at least that fan’s not in a landfill.
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