New 'reuse center' in St. Lawrence County could create jobs, reduce waste stream
Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 11:45 am

CANTON -- A new initiative to create a reuse center in St. Lawrence County is getting off the ground with a public information and recruitment session Tuesday, July 14.

"This Reuse Center project is an opportunity to re-use materials that we already have, rather than always buying new, and saving money" said county planner John Tenbusch, "We can also create local jobs while we reduce our waste stream. Talk about your 'win–win' situation."

Similar successful projects that can serve as resources for this project have been organized in Ithaca, Missoula, Montana; Boulder, Colorado; Edmonston, Maryland; Bloomington, Minnesota; Golden Valley, Minnesota; Saint Paul, Minnesota; and Portland, Oregon.

The kickoff event to create a St. Lawrence Reuse Center, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the County Human Services Building at 80 St. Hwy. 310.

It is being hosted by the St. Lawrence Reuse Partnership, a coalition of community groups and agencies dedicated to making this important project a reality in St. Lawrence County. The St. Lawrence County Reuse Partnership currently consists of St. Lawrence County Solid Waste Dept., St. Lawrence County EMC (Environmental Management Council), the Local Living Venture, NYSDEC (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) Region 6, the Canton Economic Development Office, DANC (Development Authority of the North Country), NERC (Northeast Recycling Council).

The group began working together last November on a week-long textile recovery project in conjunction with area thrift stores that recycled over five tons of re-usable textiles and kept them out of landfills. After the success of this effort, they continued in May with a campus reuse project to reclaim items discarded by students as the semester ended.

In addition, the Partnership hosted a reuse training event April 3, where Diane Cohen of the Finger Lakes Reuse Center in Tompkins County was a featured speaker. She told the audience her story about the development of the Finger Lakes Reuse Center.

Since 2008 the Finger Lakes Reuse Center has reportedly established a re-sale shop for used items, deconstructed, reclaimed and sold building materials, refurbished computers and electronics for resale, begun a "Fixer’s Collective” where experienced volunteers help people to repair broken items, and created a Job Training program that teaches people job skills and provides employment referral assistance.

In seven years, Finger Lakes Reuse has reportedly grown to directly employ eighteen persons, plus another twelve work-study staff. Annual sales have grown to more than $440,000.00. Finger Lakes Reuse has saved Tompkins County over $100,000 in waste disposal costs, and generated over $2.1 million in revenues.

Since the Training event in April, the SLC Reuse Partnership has begun work to create a Reuse Center in St. Lawrence County, following a template devised by the Tompkins County group.

At the upcoming kick-off public event for the center July 14, Cohen will speak about her project in relationship to developing a Reuse program in St. Lawrence County. She will tell her story and answer questions. Participants can also discuss what will work in this area and set up action teams.

Plans for the center include collecting items both for resale and for redistribution to area thrift stores or existing item-specific reclamation projects. Items to be reclaimed will include furniture, home and office electronics, appliances, household items, and building supplies.

Job creation is a major component of the project and includes the staff needed to run the center as well as the potential for job training efforts, such as a deconstruction component for buildings being demolished or rehabilitated.

Deconstruction is the careful dismantling of a building structure in a way that salvages the parts that can be reusable building materials. Materials coming from deconstruction may include lumber, doors, windows, cabinetry, and hardwood flooring. By choosing deconstruction, homeowners and builders can save natural resources and help divert material from the landfill, providing significant savings. Reused building materials are safe, sound, and a low-cost alternative for many uses.

Such training efforts would familiarize trainees with construction materials, methods, and safety protocols, providing them with saleable skills in the workforce. Many other community projects could spring from the new Reuse Center as well.

The event is free, includes light refreshments, and anyone interested is encouraged to attend. Reservations are encouraged, to assist in planning the event. Call 379-2292 or email John Tenbusch at [email protected] to reserve a place.