Fundamentally Green – Reuse and Salvage
March 25, 2009
One of my fondest memories of living in Chicago was ‘shopping’ in the alleys. My quickest walk to the train was down our 3 block alley: on one side were condo buildings and the on the other were single-family homes. It worked this way – if you didn’t want something anymore, you left it in the alley, NEXT to the garbage, sometimes with a note, and it was usually gone in a few hours. Through the years I collected a great variety of treasures. Among them: lamps, a desk, many many chairs, my now favorite cookbook. My goal wasn’t to be green, but it really was an efficient (cheap!) and practical system.
Now I use www.freecycle.org. If you haven’t checked them out, give them a try – it is basically a local list-serve where members post items they want to give away or items they’d like to receive. It works similarly to shopping in the Chicago alley, but is a bit more civilized.
In construction, the act of restoring or remodeling a home is a form of reuse and salvage. Preservation instead of demolition and new construction saves in energy and materials consumption and reduces demolition landfill. There is a great opportunity in salvaging and reusing materials for remodeling and even new construction projects, if you are aware and know where to look. I was at a friend’s home the other day who found an incredible farmer’s sink in the basement at an open house, asked about it, and got it for a steal.
In addition to the somewhat familiar architectural salvage companies, who generally offer antique architectural elements (light fixtures, mantels, doors, decorative windows, hardware) there are also deconstruction stores that offer even basic construction items (flooring, plumbing, cabinetry). Both types of companies also offer an alternative to demolition and waste of unwanted but usable items, either by donation or in some cases buying the item. See below for some local architectural salvage and deconstruction stores. Many have searchable websites that make browsing easier.
Restoration Resources: 1946 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118 617.542.3033 www.restorationresources.com
Old House Parts: 1 Trackside Drive, Kennebunk, ME 04043 207.985.1999 www.oldhouseparts.com
Architectural Salvage Warehouse: 11 Maple St, Fiver Corners, Essex Junction, VT 05452 802.879.4221 www.architecturalsalvagevt.com
Nor’east Architectural Antiques: 16 Exeter Road, South Hampton, NH 03827 603.394.0006 www.noreast1.com
Vermont Salvage: Gates Street, White River Junction, VT 05001 802.295.7616 www.vermontsalvage.com
ReStore: 250 Albany Street, Springfield, MA 01105 413.788.6900 www.restoreonline.com