Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's All About Thinking "Outside the Roll-Off"

Ok, here goes! My first blog entry. I’ve made a rule for myself which I hope someone tell me the reasonableness or unreasonableness of – someone being another experienced blogger. The rule is that I’m only allowed to backspace to correct misspellings. You see, I don’t really free write well at all. I craft when I write and I don’t know that crafting is appropriate for blogging. The point is now simply that I’m writing…

My wonderful P.R. person Angela Moore, who protects me from myself and keeps me on message, has directed me to get going on the subject area I of course have a passion for and that’s deconstruction and building materials reuse.

I must admit this is not a natural passion for me but rather a learned passion. That means there’s hope for other people. If I can learn to have a passion for saving stuff (building materials, namely) that can still be reused, then other people smarter than me might be able to do it, maybe not with a passion, but because it makes sense to many deliberate and rational thinking people when introduced to the concept and its benefits.

The concept (I just backspaced through about five words. I’m a cheater already!) is that we have reusable value and basis in the building materials that comprise the dwellings we live in and that when we build a new house or remodel our existing residence – we can do good things with these materials instead of just tossing them in a landfill. We can put these materials to work for ourselves and/or others.

I used to marvel at my Grandfather’s ability to utilize the embodied energy in his old tools long after most people nowadays would have gone out and purchased a new rake or shovel. Not Fred! All that rake needed was a small brace and two bolts and it was good to go for another ten years!

Maybe Fred was an extreme dude, but why do we toss perfectly good lumber out? Why can’t we use used lumber as blocking in new homes? Ask the timber industry.

Just think if we required that all new home construction incorporated 10% of framing lumber from reuse sources. Maybe that’s an unrealistic percentage, but the point is we could reduce the need for cutting down trees by demanding we do more with the lumber from the trees that we cut down 30 or 90 years ago. And our landfills would be less burdened.

Why don’t we do this already? Well, there are certain things in this country we’re not very good at conserving. (I just backspaced through another whole sentence because I know I’m rambling).

Maybe the answer is simply that someone needs to come up with a better system for getting it done. Getting what done? - getting more reusable materials into the reuse stream and out of the solid waste stream.

Yes, we all know reuse happens sporadically and recycling happens more and more, but we still throw the vast majority of these materials under a trackloader and then into our landfills. We have a lot of room for improvement. Actually the area of demolition is probably the area on most construction sites where waste volumes can be most dramatically reduced.

Next time I’ll share how I got into the demolition and/or deconstruction and reuse industry or niche and where it and the Reuse Network are currently.

Until then, keep thinking outside the roll-off!

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Deconstruction And Buildingmaterials Reuse Network Inc