March 7, 2020 — The Florence Area Community Coalition met on March 4 in the Bromley Room at the Siuslaw Public Library to discuss recycling and upcycling options currently available for local residents. Two organizations committed to the principles behind recycling movement, Florence Habitat for Humanity and Florence Master Recyclers, gave presentations that reviewed ways for consumers to significantly reduce household waste.
The two-part presentation began with Florence Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Janelle Morgan giving the attendees an overview of the many ways that materials used in and around the home can be repurposed and reused.
Habitat’s ReStore, 2016 Highway 101, has a continually changing inventory that includes construction materials, lighting and plumbing fixtures and assorted tools and electrical items that can be purchased at reduced prices.
An added benefit is that as a non-profit, ReStore and Habitat use all of the revenue generated through sales to finance new or remodeled homes for participants in the Habitat Homeowners Program.
“Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live and our mission is to bring people together to build homes, humanity and hope,” Morgan said.
Florence Habitat, with the support of its local partners, has completed 29 homes in Florence and is currently working on number 30.
That work enters a new phase this weekend as Habitat is sponsoring a work party with a nod to Women’s History month, 2020 Women Build, which will take place Sunday, March 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1279 Seventh St. People can sign up to volunteer through www.florencehabitat.org.
“We are also a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center,” Morgan said. “However, Habitat is more than just a resale store. The purpose of the Habitat ReStore is to contribute to the work of Habitat for Humanity. The funds generated go back to the organization, so when you support the ReStore by shopping, donating or volunteering, you are also helping the mission to provide decent shelter to people in our community and around the world.”
During her presentation, Morgan focused on one of the main goals of the Habitat ReStore, which is to become a more integral part of the overall waste reduction effort in the Florence area.
“One of our big focuses is to keep as many materials as possible from being thrown in the landfill and maybe be able to reuse them,” she said.
ReStore also offers a paint recycling drop off point, the only one currently operating in the area.
“We are a paint recycling center for the state of Oregon, so if you have used paint, we will accept it. If we can sell it, we will and if we are unable to resell it, then the state comes and collects it from us,” Morgan said.
She added that paint must be in its original container and the label must be intact for it to be considered resellable rather than waste material.
The story of how ReStore became an essential part of the Habitat for Humanity equation is one more of serendipity than planning. The idea was birthed in the Midwest as Habitat began to build homes and found that there were frequently building materials left over after a project had been completed.
These materials were originally stored in a barn and, as they accumulated, were sold at local garage sales. As time passed and more materials began to arrive as donations, the sale of the materials became a significant source of funding for the organization.
Since its founding in Georgia in 1976, Habitat for Humanity International has built more than 300,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1.5 million people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat for Humanity now operates in all 50 states and more than 70 countries.
The second presentation at the community coalition meeting was given by Florence Master Recycler Britte Kirsch, who discussed in detail the work being done in Florence to reduce waste of all types.
She encouraged attendees to participate in whatever way worked best for their lifestyle.
Kirsch also acknowledged the confusion swirling around the recycling world.
“I am definitely going to open it up for questions you may have,” Kirsch said. “I know there are a lot of changes in our recycling world, and I am happy to answer any questions I can. If I can’t, I will get answers for you.”
Her presentation touched briefly on the current plastic problem faced by local residents and said that an upcoming Plastic Round-Up event would be scheduled for April.
One of the most important points raised by Kirsch was the evolving concept of manufacturer responsibility. This new trend in the battle to reduce waste calls upon the company that produces a product to take some level of responsibility for the disposal of the packing associated with the product.
Kirsch strongly suggested that consumers contact the producers of the goods they buy asking them to reduce packaging and provide ways to recycle the materials used in their inventory.
She also wanted to stress that although the name of her group included the well-known term “recycler” the group was really interested in turning people’s attention to another part of the “Reduce, reuse, recycle” paradigm.
“We’re called Master Recyclers, but what we really want to do in the end is reduce, especially now that we have the whole plastics issue. Reduce and reuse is now kind of our mantra,” Kirsch said.
For information about Florence Area Community Coalition and its resources, visit www.florenceareacc.org. Meetings are generally held the first Wednesday of each month from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Siuslaw Public Library.