For “D.I.Y.”ers, using recycled construction products is a great way to reduce raw material consumption and lessen stress on landfills. But for retailers, the “Re I. Y.” trend (Re-use It Yourself) is taking the idea a step further, giving unused building products a new lease on life.
The idea of reusing building materials is certainly nothing new, and in the past it was a trend borne of simple necessity. Ancient cave dwellers and frontier settlers alike had to use the materials available to them, or else do without. But in the age of global shipping and super-size home-improvement stores, many consumers don’t think twice about where their building supplies come from, or where they go after a project is complete. And the statistics are staggering: according to a recent Buildings magazine article, construction and demolition projects account for up to 30% of the US waste stream – 135.5 million tons of debris each year. Enter the Re I. Y. store, which blends big-box-store convenience with the efficiency of re-use.
Here in the US, Habitat for Humanity operates a nationwide retail chain called ReStore, which sells both used building supplies and new, surplus products left over when projects are completed. Items may be donated by contractors, or even provided by other retailers. ReStore outlets also support their local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and some of the most successful locations generate enough funding to finance the construction of 10 new houses each year.
In England, three “ReIY Centres” are opening this spring in Waltham Forest, Tees Valley, and The Wirral as part of a pilot project by the BioRegional organization. These outlets will sell quality new surplus building materials such as lumber and flooring, with price savings from 20% to 80% below retail prices. The program is designed to provide jobs and skills training to local communities in addition to reducing construction waste.
For more information, or to find a ReStore location near you, visit the Habitat for Humanity website.