Reusing, repurposing and recycling is at the core of SWACO’s mission. So when an opportunity arose this summer to team up with Habitat for Humanity to rescue and reuse building material, they didn’t hesitate. The efforts paid off in a big way.

Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25, protesters convened in cities across the country, including Columbus, to speak out against systemic racism. While the protests were overwhelmingly peaceful, many shops and businesses in downtown Columbus and in the Short North boarded up their windows with plywood. Some businesses used the plywood to express solidarity with the protestors, decorating them with art or messages in support of racial justice.

When the protests subsided a few weeks later, the shops and businesses began to remove the plywood. Much of it seemed destined for the trash and, ultimately, the landfill. But the Special Improvement Districts (SIDs) for downtown and the Short North stepped in to seek an alternative. Concerned about the environmental impact of throwing away so much plywood, they approached SWACO about finding a way to reuse the wood.

SWACO connected the SIDs with Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit organization that helps families build places to call home. Habitat said it could sell the used plywood in its three MidOhio ReStores, which raise money to build houses through the sale of gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories and building materials at a discount. MidOhio ReStore employees retrieved much of the plywood and brought it to the stores.

By rescuing and selling the plywood, Habitat for Humanity not only diverted thousands of pounds of material from the landfill, it also raised much-needed funds for the construction of new homes for families in need of affordable housing. And that’s a win-win situation.

SWACO is so pleased that the SIDs thought of us as a resource for this material. The next time you’re about to throw something away, ask yourself first if it can be recycled, reused or repurposed. If you need help, SWACO is here for you. Visit Recycling and Reuse Search Tool to find outlets for the materials you have. Your choice can have a positive impact on the environment and help support people and organizations in need.

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