Monday, April 5, 2021

Reuse & Repair: Creating New Jobs and Enterprises through Zero Waste

This Wednesday on April 7th, from 2pm to 3:30 pm the Zero Waste Committee of Warren County, NY will be hosting a Zero Waste Webinar with a focus on local economic growth through reuse and repair enterprise programs. The program is entitled: “Creating new jobs and enterprises through Zero Waste”, with the committee being a project of the Clean Air Action Network (CAAN) of Glens Falls.

The webinar will feature four of the country’s most respected leaders in the field of reuse and repair:

Elizabeth Knight, based in the mid Hudson Valley, is the co-author of The Repair Revolution: How Fixers are Transforming Our Throw Away Economy.

Mark Foster is the founder and director of Second Chance, Baltimore’s thriving building deconstruction and resale social enterprise.

Mary Lou Van Deventer operates Urban Ore, Inc., the iconic materials recovery enterprise started at the Berkeley (CA) landfill. She is also an environmental writer.

Jacob Hannah is the coordinator of ReUse Corridor, a network of businesses, universities and local and state economic development agencies serving rural Appalachian communities in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

Busieness and social enterprises everywhere are adopting the philosophy of reuse and repair, acheiveing impactful environmental goals in the process, and benefiting typically harder to employ demographics. A reuse and repair oriented business makes economic sense, as the average value of repairable items is estimated at $550 a ton. Which is money lost when these items are wasted.

Resuable and repairable items include appliances, building materials, electronics, furniture, furnishings, tools, office and art supplies, books, clothing, and more. Focusing on deconstruction as opposed to demolition is also detrimental to the movement, salvaging a building for reusable parts and metals as opposed to destroying it, effectively wasting valuable materials.

The press release announcing this event states: “This webinar will be of interest to economic development professionals and community planners, job training and development specialists, Zero Waste and recycling proponents, green entrepreneurs and investors, solid waste and recycling professionals, local elected officials, environmental advocates, and members of youth/student and civic associations.”

The webinar will be moderated by Neil Seldman, the director of the Waste to Wealth Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, and a founding member of CAAN.

This webinar is free and open to all. Download flyer and pre-register at  If you have any questions or a problem registering,

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4 Responses

  1. John boy says:

    So sad that so little plastic waste is recycled The last number I saw on a couple places was only about 9% of the plastic made is recycled. Recycling doesn’t count if plastic waste just goes in a container to a third world country and then it’s dumped in the ocean. We maybe should learn to burn plastic waste cleanly and make energy and since it’s recycled energy maybe it would be considered green energy just saying.

    • Boreas says:

      John boy,

      What NEEDS to happen is corporations should be responsible for what they produce. As simple as that. The petrochemical industry for decades have been pushing the agenda that recycling is the responsibility of the end-user. “Recycle MORE!” “Recycle EVERYTHING!” yet these same companies push to sell more and more plastics – and most manufacturers prefer virgin plastic and won’t even buy recycled raw materials.

      What needs to happen is that the petrochemical industry – arguably the most profitable block of corporations in the world – needs to be made accountable for their products from cradle to grave, and NOT CONSUMERS!

      This “ownership” of government by corporations is the root of the problem – and not just in the US. The most powerful corporations in the world need to be forced to be more responsible. If they cannot produce an environmentally neutral product, they need to be responsible for the environmental, social, and health hazards of their products. Only then will there be any emphasis on R&D to produce less toxic and non-polluting products. I feel our recycling efforts should result in the recyclables piling up on the doorstep of the manufacturers. It needs to be THEIR problem, not ours!

  2. Zephyr says:

    I’m not sure where the recycling goes these days. Yesterday I watched as our garbage and recycling bins were dumped into the same huge truck. What is the point of citizens separating recycling if it is then just dumped into a landfill? Or, are they somehow separating everything later? If so, why bother with all the sheets of information commanding us to do this, do that, and then don’t do something else? On the subject of reuse and repair there are so many things we can do, and one of the saddest examples I see constantly of huge waste is the destruction of older buildings everywhere. Without fail they are replaced by something much uglier too. Many of us live happily in homes that are more than 100 years old.

    • Boreas says:


      WRT recycling, I believe most recycled products simply are prohibited from NYS landfills. So it goes to recycling/sorting centers and hopefully shipped to a buyer. If no one buys it, I believe the bulk of it ends up in a landfill on some Pacific island willing to accept it along with cash, and/or it ends up in the ocean forever. China used to take much of it, but they no longer want our problem. I watched something on PBS that stated within a decade or two, the mass of plastic in the oceans will exceed the biomass of flora and fauna.

      I also wish people would look at re-habbing old houses before building new ones – especially “affordable” manufactured housing filled with – PLASTIC! It would be great if the government could offer funding/credits for rehabbing existing buildings. We have plenty of people out of work that could learn to become glazing experts, refinishing experts, masonry experts, etc.. I would rather see those individuals working to sustain and restore structures than clamoring for logging/extraction jobs.

      In addition, I would like to see people opt for more modest new housing that is easier to sell in future economic downturns. Not only are McMansions difficult to sell in lean times, they use a lot of energy in the materials, construction, and landscaping to produce them. I guess I have never understood the idea of flaunting wealth as wealth has never been in my future. A retired couple sharing a 6 bedroom/4 bath dwelling with in-ground pool seems illogical to me. And don’t even get me started with people who own more than 3 dwellings for their exclusive use! I am even looking at transitioning from my modest 90 year-old kit bungalow to something more senior-friendly.

      I would like to see the era of conspicuous consumption come to an end and allow sustainable recycle/reuse become more ingrained in our lives and livelihoods.

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