The Three R’s: Reuse

By Colleen Beaty, Manager, Conservation Content and Partnerships|March 21, 2013

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve introduced you to the “Three R’s” of sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – and discussed how the principle of “Reduce” can be applied to habitat and education projects in a way that also furthers your facility’s sustainability goals. Today I’m going to talk about the second R, Reuse.

Photo courtesy of Oldcastle Materials

Photo courtesy of Oldcastle Materials

One of the most common forms of reuse is one in which your site may already be involved. Brush piles are an easy way to reuse your employees’ old Christmas trees and brush that’s been left over from woodland thinning activities or brush hogging. You can even use most invasive shrubs and trees in brush pile construction, turning these habitat-damaging plants into valuable cover habitat.

If you’re building structures such as pavilions, signage, and picnic areas, or maybe structured landscaping features like framed raised beds and container gardens, you’ve also got an excellent opportunity for materials reuse. Old pallets are sturdy and readily available at many industrial locations – they can readily be repurposed into raised bed garden frames or other construction projects. All sorts of other materials can be repurposed for building projects, like reclaimed lumber, cinderblocks, and broken down concrete slabs leftover from construction projects or resulting from a building demolition. When reusing materials like these, it’s important to stick to non-toxic materials to avoid impacts to wildlife and sensitive groups of people, so stay away from things like pressure-treated and pesticide-treated wood. The Materials Reuse Program at the University of Georgia has some fantastic examples of using reclaimed materials in building outdoor projects.

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