The ReUse PeopleBy Ted Reiff
TRP’s anniversary is November 29 because that’s the day we actually started doing business. We don’t count all the prior days spent thinking about doing business, writing the business plan, incorporating, and receiving federal approval as a nonprofit organization, all of which took a good seven months. But just so you know, the spark was ignited in April, 1993, so in my heart I’m celebrating this month.

The ReUse People

By Ted Reiff

Reduce, Relocate, Reuse, Recycle

A new mantra in the environmental world? Probably not; however, adding “relocate” to the customary trio of imperatives might encourage us to consider a seldom-used option — house-moving.

The ReUse People SpecialsThis year we’re not waiting for Spring to arrive before rolling out our annual Reuse Contest. Entries and feedback from previous years have made it abundantly clear that people need all the time they can get to plan and execute some of the amazing projects entered in the competition.

When we first introduced the Reuse Contest several years ago, our purpose was to promote the reuse of building materials and to give our customers an additional incentive to incorporate salvaged materials wherever possible when building, remodeling or creating signature products such as furniture and works of art. After starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, we quickly expanded to include the rest of California, and in 2012 went national.

The ReUse People SpecialsTRP reached a new plateau in 2013, due primarily to the drive and enthusiasm of our people.

The ReUse People SpecialsThe second annual National Reuse Contest came to a close on October 31, 2013, the last day for participating reuse stores to enter their local winners in the national competition. National winners were chosen in late November.

Before I divulge the winners, I’d like to thank the dozens of stores and store managers who participated in this year’s contest. The total number of entries more than doubled from 2012. Because of the excitement generated by this contest, and the number of people who wanted to enter but simply could not get their projects completed, TRP has decided to extend the entry period for next year’s contest from seven to 10 months and to launch the contest in January

The ReUse People SpecialsMany of us have great stories about the different and unique ways we or others have reused things. The following case involves the ingenious reuse of countless numbers of a single type of common item—wrenches.

One of our TRP advisors forwarded to me a series of photos of sculptures made from nothing but wrenches. I suspect it was one of those “Can you believe this?” items making rounds on the web. The artist is John Piccoli of Victoria, Australia. Locally, he is known as “The Spanner Man.” Spanner is the British and Australian word for what Americans call a monkey wrench.

The ReUse Depot, TRP’s newest partner store, recently opened its doors in Bellwood, Illinois, just 20 miles west of downtown Chicago.

The ReUse Depot carries more reusable building materials than any other retailer in the greater Chicago area—and at lower prices. Store Manager Michelle FitzGerald has been working all summer to fill the 22,000 square-foot space with virtually every type of residential building material imaginable.

As of this e-letter, extensive warehouse inventory includes 2 1/4” oak flooring, full kitchen cabinet sets (some with matching appliances), furnaces, High Bay lighting fixtures, a bowling alley (including shoes and balls), lumber (new, used and old growth), windows (dozens of shapes, sizes and styles)...

The July 18 issue of The New York Times contains the enlightening article, “Architecture: Pre-emptive Moves, Predemolition,” by Christopher Gray. It’s about the practice of stripping buildings of decoration to avoid last minute obstacles to demolition. You can access the entire article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/realestate/architecture-pre-emptive-mo...

I was slightly aware of this practice, but did not know it was so pervasive. Removing key elements from a building to render the building unworthy of preservation is, to my mind, nothing short of desecration. 

The “pre-emptive moves” go something like this: An individual or developer purchases a noteworthy building that has not been listed on any historic register. The owner then removes key architectural elements, often from the façade (columns, carvings, trim, statuary), which leaves the building looking scarred and abandoned, begging to be torn down and replaced.

Have you ever encountered a particular business and wondered what it would be like to own something similar? For example, in an intriguing store have you ever concluded, “I’d be great at this,” or in response to a bad experience complained, “I could do better”?

By Ted Reiff

All of us are familiar with some type of reuse, but even certified reusers might be surprised by the ingenious ideas depicted in these photos. Boots as bird houses, jeans as planters. And, seriously, who would have thought to make a bookcase from an upended baby-grand piano?

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