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Used materials are a local resource!
Tons of building materials, computers, electronics, household goods,
appliances, and furniture unnecessarily enter the landfill. Used
materials – too often wasted – are assets with overlooked economic value. Finger
Lakes ReUse taps this value to strengthen our economy, build community, and protect
our environment by re-directing materials from the waste stream into productive new uses.
Finger Lakes ReUse operates a community-oriented warehouse, shopping, and
educational center where the maximum reuse of materials is a priority; where
safety, cleanliness, customer service, good business, education, and creativity
are stressed; where living wage jobs are created and supported; where mentoring
opportunities are available; and where education in the skills of repair and reuse
is offered. Our aim is for everyone in the community to enjoy and partake in the
services offered by Finger Lakes ReUse and, in time, to also assist other communities
in the region to develop reuse services.
To Enhance Community, Economy, and Environment Through ReUse.
In 1995, Tompkins County made a commitment to develop a ReUse Center as
part of its 20-Year Solid Waste Management Plan. Having reduced waste by 58%
after 12 years of implementing other plan components, Tompkins County Solid Waste
Management Division views reuse as the most efficient, economic, and environmentally
friendly way to reduce the waste stream further. As we grow, Finger Lakes
ReUse will be annually diverting from the waste stream hundreds of tons of materials related to
construction, computers, electronics, household goods, sporting equipment, textiles, and
In Tompkins County, 17.6% of the population lives below the Federal Poverty Level.
Residents earn a median household income of $37,272 (1999), a figure 16% lower than
the state average and 13% lower than the nation as a whole. In addition to providing
quality goods at affordable prices or in exchange for volunteer labor, Finger Lakes ReUse
is creating jobs and providing skills training to move people out of poverty and into work
that pays a living wage. Finger Lakes ReUse has created 14 entry
level and career employment opportunities in its first two years of operation and will be continuing to add positions as we grow. ReCycle North, a similar non-profit operation in
Burlington, VT (a community comparable in size to Ithaca), employs over 40 FTE after ten
years of operation.
A core program is deconstruction – the systematic disassembly of buildings by hand
to salvage the materials. Across the U.S., deconstruction is emerging as an economically
viable alternative to demolition that saves natural resources, reduces waste, and creates
jobs. Workers trained in deconstruction develop marketable, specialized skills in the
construction trades in addition to basic competencies, such as decision-making skills and
the ability to work on a team. Deconstruction, repair, and other reuse services provide
excellent opportunities to train skilled labor, thereby enhancing the local workforce and
At the ReUse Center, you can find answers to technical questions and discuss creative
reuse solutions with other shoppers, employee, and volunteers. Finger Lakes ReUse fosters civic involvement through its volunteer opportunities and educational programs.
Classes on topics ranging from the technical (How to Rebuild Your Computer) to the
creative (From Junk to Joy) will draw on the talents of community members and offer
inspiration and instruction promoting personal growth and skills development for all.
Finger Lakes ReUse also fills a unique niche that complements and enhances human service
programs. The ReUse Center supplies non-profit organizations and educational institutions
with affordable or free materials for their offices, programs, and clients. Finger Lakes ReUse will
also collaborate with human services agencies, educational institutions, trade unions,
local government, and existing reuse programs to provide new training opportunities for
their students, apprentices, and clients. At the ReUse Center, underserved members of
our community are finding an open and welcoming environment where they can learn job
skills, take and share responsibility, be part of a team, undertake challenges, and
receive recognition for their accomplishments.