WNY's Largest Supplier of Reclaimed and Surplus Building Material

A Community of Doers, Part I – Are you a bicycle entrepreneur?

So, a month or two ago, we posted about our vision for an artisan center on the East Side of Buffalo.  Well we’re excited that our vision is beginning to take shape…we have lots of ideas and lots of hopes for our humble little warehouse located at 298 Northampton Street. Over the next few weeks, we’re gonna share with you some ideas we’ve had about “dream tenants” . . . entrepreneurs, artists, artisans . . . who provide a service to the community and/or are interested in a community art space.  The focus is really on creating and doing. So … Read more

People ask us . . . Why Do You Do What You Do?

From our About page: Question: People ask us . . . Why Do You Do What You Do? (WDYDWYD?) Answer 1: Jobs! We’re committed to creating local and green jobs for the Buffalo community. More importantly, we feel these jobs should leverage the waste in our society to create opportunity. We’re interested in a critical analysis of our economy to identify wasteful business practices that damage our communities and our environment, and opportunities that exist for new ventures. We’re determined to find solutions and to implement alternatives that put people to work. Answer 2: Innovation! As we look at the … Read more

Cool ReUse: Doors as Drywall

The style in our friend Dennis’s house is, let’s say . . . anti-drywall.  Old dresser drawers cover one wall of his house and act as both the finished wall and shelving units.  Another wall is covered with old, wooden organ pieces.  No wall is the same, and none use drywall.  We think it’s pretty cool stuff. So when Dennis came to us to help with his newest idea of doors serving the place of drywall, we said ummmm . . . . YES! Hollow core doors were purchased for roughly $10/door and were screwed in with joints alternating for … Read more

From Stairs to Cabinets

A lot of conversation in the building material reuse industry is about closing loops.   Rather than having a start and a finish (as in, virgin forest to landfill), we like to see a material come full circle and reenter into use.  At Action HQ we are constantly receiving and processing materials and using our woodshop to try and find uses for them.  When we have a good idea or something turns out particularly well, we’d like to share with you the creations we come up with! The green demo crew took down a house in South Buffalo this past week … Read more

“My version of energy efficiency is to conserve my own energy”

“Nowadays people are talking about net-zero houses . . . My feeling is there’s a lot of overkill in a net-zero house. My version of energy efficiency is to conserve my own energy. It seems to me they are designing for the three coldest days of the year. Designing a house so it will keep you warm without any heat at minus 40 might be overkill. I say, design for 345 days of the year, and the other 20 days just burn some junk mail in the woodstove. I still have my farm out west, and these days I try … Read more

Urban Café Style Gardening

Coffee Beans BagsWith more than 17,000 vacant properties in the City of Buffalo, one would hope we could transform a larger percentage of those lots into productive space, even if only for a few growing seasons. Other cities, like Detroit, are figuring out ways to turn formerly residential land into small farms or large gardens that grow food for their soup kitchens, congregations or the needy.  The problem is that dirt you put a house on isn’t the same kind of dirt you grow tomatoes in.

What are some solutions? Most urban gardeners don’t have the patience to remediate soil over several years, so we either have to dig out the dirt and replace it with truckloads of soil OR truck in lots of soil to fill raised beds.  Another way is to make your own dirt.

I’m trying a combination of strategies with The Garden of Stewardship over on East Eagle. The garden is on the property of Sheehan Health Network.  It was a big fenced-in grassy area. We cannot dig into the ground because it’s a very thin layer of dirt covering an awful lot of clay.  The grass/weeds are using what little dirt there is.  So, I decided to smother the grass and build our soil on top of it.  I am calling the strategy, the Urban Café Gardening Method to acknowledge the fact that all the materials we’ll use are found readily in cities–cities with coffee drinkers anyway!  Here’s how you can replicate it in your space.

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mining for ideas in TO…

So there’s nothing like a visit to Toronto to stimulate your brain cells and get the ideas flowing.  As I walked through an area called the Junction on Dundas Street in Toronto, I started thinking about the power and potential of entrepreneurship as an economic booster in Buffalo.  Not just plain old profit driven business, but entrepreneurship embraces people and place.   Entrepreneurship that doesn’t just take and consume, but that gives back.  Business that creates a net positive impact for its workers, the environment, and the community in which it operates.  This is what we’re thinking of when we use … Read more

taking the first step…

When we started ReUse, our initial momentum was fueled by the combination of belief that a better way existed, unyielding determination despite the many obstacles, and passion for the health of our environment and our community.  This is what got me out of bed every morning and kept me up late into the evening. The belief, determination, and passion fueled my fire of action for almost four years.  When I was terminated from ReUse, the fire was completely extinguished, dramatically and without warning.  Even more devastating was the loss of my team, my collaborators, my partners.  I still experience a … Read more