Last week I had a super fun time volunteering at Build It Green, and learning more about how we can help eliminate waste by salvaging unwanted building materials and reusing them in fun and exciting ways. Build It Green! NYC is a non-profit retail outlet for salvaged and surplus building materials. They collect donations of unwanted building materials and furnishings, and sell them at discounted prices at their locations in Queens and Brooklyn.
I visited the Brooklyn location, which is situated near the Gowanus Canal in a 200-year-old warehouse building. It's a treasure trove of plumbing fixtures, furniture, tiles, doors, and lots more. But you've got to be up for some digging, and expect to put in some work.
Here are some ways that you can help support green building:
If you are remodeling your home or business, consider donating any unwanted items to Build It Green. Be sure to contact them first to make sure they are willing to accept your donation. If it's a good fit, they can come pick it up for free!
Managing tons and tons of building materials is no easy task, and extra hands are always appreciated. There are lots of ways to help out. I spent several hours with a group of 6 other volunteers removing nails and screws from some recently donated floor joists. I don't have a lot of building experience, so it was a great opportunity to get my hands on some tools and learn the basics. De-nailing the wood was really relaxing and satisfying work. After a few hours, we had a big pile of de-nailed wood stacked up, and it felt good.
When shopping at Build It Green, it's best to keep an open mind, and embrace imperfection. And just because it's salvaged, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be super cheap. While you can definitely score some deals, salvaging and transporting building materials is very labor intensive business. But you can feel good knowing you saved something from the landfill, and your home will have a unique story to tell.
Here are some goodies I found on my visit:
DOORS - Prices ranged from under $100 for something pretty basic, to several thousand for the fancy stuff. Doors are organized by size, so have in mind what dimensions will work for your space.
SINKS - These soapstone countertops complete with sink and faucet are in pretty good shape.
A dramatic tub like this works well in a rustic, minimal setting. The wood plank floors and hushed simplicity of the room on the right allow the tub to really shine and be the focal point of the space.
KITCHEN CABINETS - $2500 for this 15-piece Shaker cabinet set. With a little TLC and careful installation, these will look like new!
DRESSERS - There is a wide selection of dressers and casegoods, but many of them are screaming for a makeover - like this shabby little white number. With a fresh coat of paint, and some new knobs, she'll be a brand new lady. I would go black or grey with crystal knobs and pretty drawer lining paper to make it extra luxurious.
MISCELLANEOUS - This lucite bench could be quite the stunner in your entry way! The burgundy velvet upholstery is kinda creepy, but you could easily redo the seat in a fabulous fabric to make it totally fresh and new. These lamp bases are rather glamorous and interesting. $75 is not a bad price for the pair. Top them off with some new shades, and voila! Look who's fancy now.