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‘Reuse It Yourself’ Movement Could Revolutionise DIY
Green Futures, 17 Apr 09

By Rebecca Schischa

DIY enthusiasts poised to reuse old building materials

Some “14 million tonnes” of unwanted building materials generated by the construction industry could be saved from being dumped in landfills in a new reclaim and resell scheme.

Under the new initiative, three ‘ReIY’ (Reuse It Yourself) centres will be piloted across the country – in Wirral, Waltham Forest and Tees Valley – offering a cheaper, greener alternative to DIY. Aimed at the SME building trade and DIY customers, the centres will stock good quality unused materials, such as timber, tiles, paving slabs and flooring, and resell them between 20% and 80% cheaper than their new equivalents.

Created by sustainability charity BioRegional – of BedZED eco-village fame – the first two centres are set to open in May 2009. Cara Whelan, Project Manager at BioRegional, said: “The construction industry is the single largest producer of waste in England, producing an estimated 120 million tonnes of waste per year. We calculate that 12%, or 14 million tonnes, can be reused.”

Funded by WRAP, an organisation helping businesses go green, BioRegional estimates that the ReIY scheme will enable a carbon saving of “around 500kg for every tonne of construction materials reused”.

Based on a successful US model, the scheme will be run on a social enterprise business model, with each centre creating “around four full time jobs and up to 100 volunteer placements or traineeships”. And if the pilot proves successful, the concept could be rolled out nationally: “The sky’s the limit! There are over 1,000 Travis Perkins [builders’ merchants] stores in the UK. If the idea takes off there could be a ReIY centre in every town,” enthused Whelan.

Forum for the Future’s Head of Built Environment, Martin Hunt, was fully supportive of the concept: “Anything that makes it easier to exchange and sell on unused building materials is a great idea, particularly for smaller businesses in the current economic climate.”

Green Futures is published by Forum for the Future and is one of the leading magazines on environmental solutions and sustainable futures. Its aim is to demonstrate that a sustainable future is both practical and desirable – and can be profitable, too.

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We waste an incredible amount of wood. A family remodeling across the street filled a dumpster today with interior wall framing merely to replace it with newly purchased 2x4.

I found a new hand tool for pulling out nails and wire staples just invented by Mike Foley in Idaho. Take a look at the NailJack. These pullers make 'deconstruction' much easier I think. Saves wood. It's been a long time since there was something really great for the toolbox.

Posted by: Brian Hayes on 17 Apr 09

This is not a new idea. Habitat for Humanity ReStore sells used building materials. Is that the "based on a successful model" part of it? Why not mention them as well?

Posted by: Jon on 19 Apr 09

This story comes to Worldchanging from Green Futures, a publication from the United Kingdom. The realization of this concept is new for them, and there they do not yet have ReStores. Or, so I assume. But ReStore is an amazing resource. I got a beautiful, reclaimed medicine cabinet from them last year.

Posted by: Sarah on 20 Apr 09

There's a saying that has been used in Historic Preservation circles since the early 80s: "The Greenest Building is the one that's already built." This could be extended to building materials as well. Glad to see the rest of world finally catching on to this idea.

Posted by: weakyknee on 20 Apr 09

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