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Out with the old, and in with the...old

As the New Year rolls in, the allure of a fresh start often prompts us to clean out the cupboards and throw away the excess clutter in our lives.

But, one organization in upstate New York is encouraging people to recycle the remnants of 2012 instead of trashing them.

“There’s a second use to anything really. When you talk about an old kitchen table that really outgrew its useful life, someone else in the community can use it, it doesn’t have to end in your kitchen once you grow tired of it. It’s the same with just about anything,” says Jay Rowe, Executive director Rochester Greenovation.

Rochester Greenovation works to recycle everything from parts of gutted houses, to furniture, electronics, and even the yard signs from long-forgotten elections.

“We try to teach the community about zero waste. We see a lot of the waste that is going on between housing materials, furniture - really you name it, we’ll take whatever we can and try to find an alternate purpose for it.”

New from old – shelter from community waste

Rowe has seen electrical parts turned into jewelry, old appliances become art, and long-forgotten couches find a grateful home.

But, one of the projects he is most excited about will see recycled materials from the community turned into zero-cost homeless shelters.

“We really wanted to take old pallets and other materials that were destined for the landfill, and send them off to a new use as a homeless shelter.”

The idea is to make the shelters costing next to nothing using old wood, materials like election signs as insulation, and volunteer labor.

And, Rowe says the response from the community has been so good that they something that started as a 10-week workshop idea, has now become something much bigger.                                                                           

“There are so many people who really care about homeless issues in Rochester.”

“We have a pretty large population under the poverty line locally, and I think this will do a lot of good out there. There are so many waste materials that I know people are just dying to figure out how we can recycle and this just seems like a great idea.”

Rowe says he hopes the prototype shelter will be finished early in the New Year, and the next step will be to present them to the city and non-profits to see who wants to use them.

He says no matter how broken or useless people think something is, it can always be given new life through recycled.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail
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