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From Trash to Treasure

Habitat for Humanity store to sell used construction materials and appliances.


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Just in time for spring cleaning, a new thrift store may be the greenest means of getting rid of leftover building materials and unwanted home furnishings.

On June 9th, Habitat for Humanity's Memphis chapter will open ReStore, a local branch of its national chain of resale outlets. Unlike other thrift stores, ReStore focuses specifically on building materials and home furnishing items, which are sold at 50 to 90 percent below retail value. Proceeds will fund the construction of homes for Memphis families in need.

"We live in this world that, if something goes wrong with a cabinet or a fridge, we just throw it away," said ReStore manager Joe Davidson.

The average American generates about four-and-a-half pounds of waste per day and approximately 1,600 pounds per year, making for a grand total of 243 million tons of trash, according to a 2009 Environmental Protection Agency report.

"Thirty percent of our regular mainstream waste that goes into the landfill are construction materials like concrete and metals and only about 30 percent of that is recyclable," said Davidson. "We've got this idea of being green, but we sometimes forget that we don't need to go out and buy a brand-new solar panel. It can be as simple as recycling or using those twisty light bulbs."

ReStore offers a tax-deductible alternative to the landfill by diverting gently used pieces of furniture, building materials, appliances, books, and artwork from the city's dumps and giving them new life as inexpensive resources for individuals and families.

In the three years Davidson managed the Clarksville ReStore, nearly 780,000 pounds of building materials were saved and enough money was raised to build five homes. Davidson said he hopes that the Memphis location will be able to maintain, if not exceed, that amount.

With its first store established nearly 20 years ago in Austin, Texas, ReStore was developed for those who can't donate time, but want to contribute to Habitat for Humanity's effort.

Memphis Habitat opened the first local ReStore near its Midtown office several years ago, but it closed in 2008 because the space was too small and not visible from the main thoroughfare. The Winchester space is larger and highly visible from Highway 385.

 "The ReStore will be a great community resource for those looking to renovate or update their home on a small budget, " said Lauren Hannaford, a spokesperson for Memphis Habitat.

Though it's not yet open for business, ReStore is currently accepting smaller items at the store on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and offering a pick-up service on Wednesdays and Thursdays for larger items. Habitat is also seeking volunteers to work in ReStore.

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