The New Paltz ReUse Center, a warehouse for rescued materials on Clearwater Road, held its grand opening on Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Town of New Paltz Recycling Coordinator Laura Petit said the building is partially funded by the New York State Department of the Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and contains materials diverted from the waste stream, as well as materials donated by manufacturers and contractors.
She said the center is frequented mainly by artists and is set up like a retail store full of “moderately priced” residual material such as roofing shingles, rolls of insulation, partial bolts of fabric, carpet remnants, matting material and frames.
“We’re not the same as Salvation Army or Good Will because we don’t have the room for furniture, appliances or clothing,” Petit said. “For instance, we have Kiss My Face bags that were donated filled with wooden discs or pink bracelets for $1.”
Town Supervisor Susan Zimet said the ReUse center was inspired by the Hudson Valley Materials Exchange (HVME), as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) request for New Paltz to represent the EPA Region 2’s pilot zero waste partner community.
As one of only 13 communities in the country chosen by the EPA, Zimet said the center was “critical.”
“The ReUse Center plays a central role in New Paltz’s mission to be a zero waste community and will provide a public market place for reusable materials and a means to keep these valuable commodities out of the waste stream thereby dramatically reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their disposal,” Zimet said.
New Paltz was recruited by the EPA because it had the “optimal size, demographics, infrastructure, resources, values, priorities, community-mindedness and commitment” to be a model community for the program, according to Kimiko Link, environmental scientist and program coordinator for the state and local sustainable materials management programs for EPA Region 2.
“The lessons learned from this partnership and best practices established will be shared with the national partners, used as models, will help EPA shape its national program,” Link said. “And will help quantify the environmental, health, social, economic benefits and greenhouse gas reductions associated with these activities.”
Zimet said the center will benefit New Paltz in numerous ways by offering a sustainable and inexpensive option to purchase items such as building materials, art supplies and home décor, as well as providing a platform for “community building” through holding different workshops and hosting events such as art shows and craft fairs.
The new building will also be a key component in future plans for the Recycling Center.
“The ReUse Center will be the centerpiece of the future eco-village that we hope to build at this site, which will include permaculture demonstration gardens, rainwater harvesting and a solar panel farm to provide renewable municipal electricity needed for our mission to be off the grid,” Zimet said.
It will also have financial advantages too, as less waste being disposed of means less cost, Petit said. While the building for the center is new, Petit said the same reuse operation was previously done out of trailers and has raised $10,000 so far this year, which means the 2013 recycling budget will be reduced.
When preparing for the opening, Petit said she had help from New Paltz students who participated in Make A Difference Day by painting a mural, organizing the center, cleaning the oil recycling and Freon area, starting a greenhouse and tending to the gardens.
Kelly Drummond, SUNY New Paltz recycling coordinator, volunteered and spoke about student benefits at the center’s opening.
“It can be a valuable resource for art majors who can use some of the items to make mosaics or sculptures,” Drummond said.
Similarly, Zimet hopes students will utilize the center and that it will set an example.
“All students are encouraged to visit the ReUse Center and explore the treasures and possibilities that this exciting new community resource provides,” Zimet said. “I …am thrilled to be involved in this critical effort to make New Paltz a model of sustainability for the whole country.”