by Lily Gutterman, New Media Coordinator, Team Vermont
In Burlington, recycling is taken to a whole new level.
ReSOURCE Vermont, a non-profit commonly known by its old name Recycle North, is a community enterprise dedicated to meeting community and individual needs through job skills training and education, environmental stewardship, and economic opportunities. They have several programs through which they reach these aims. The following were ones we focused on in our visit:
ReSTORE is their retail storefront. By refurbishing donated household goods, they prevent over 1,002 tons of material from entering landfills each year. The store is reminiscent of a recycled IKEA, which a vast stock and extremely low prices.
ReBUILD is a deconstruction program. In 2001, when the organization learned that over 30% of the waste in landfills was construction debris, they started this program to salvage, sort, and reuse these materials. This prevents the CO2 sequestered in wood products from being released into the atmosphere. Our team helped volunteer with this program by denailing lumber from old buildings. We mused where different wood had come from, or how old the structures had been based on the iron-forged nails. All in all, the ReBUILD lumberyard was full of material in excellent condition, prime for new building projects and creative “Waste-Not” Products that they manufacture on-site. Students are enrolled in programs to learn these practical skills.
ReTRAIN is a job skills training program, helping individuals gain work credentials and tangible skills in construction, repairs, and more. They have a program called YouthBuild, a chapter of a nationwide initiative, that helps 16-24 year olds get marketable work experience while earning their GED.
As you can tell, we were seriously impressed with the work of this organization. It is a powerful force in the Burlington community, and a model for reuse and community engagement. We were glad to be able to do some volunteering with them, both in the lumberyard and painting their human resources department walls (we hope they like orange…).
Another inspirational recycling initiative in Burlington was a program run by Local Motion. This program, Bike Recycle Vermont, is a non-profit bike shop. People in the community donate old bikes, volunteers refurbish them in the shop, and the program gives these bikes to low-income Vermonters in need of transportation. By reducing landfill waste and promoting fossil-fuel free transport, Bike Recycle Vermont is a green enterprise. They also train youth in bike mechanics, and plan biking excursions with low-income youth. To raise money, they run a program called Bike Recycle Designs– using waste product to make creative and elegant jewelry, belts and crafts which they sell online and at farmers markets.
Overall, we were inspired and impressed with the recycling/reusing initiatives in Burlington, and eager to find out if these types of programs exist in our own communities back home.