On Saturday, August 11, from 10 am to 2 pm, the Pennsylvania Resources Council will host ReuseFest, a collection drive and educational event at South Side Works that focuses on the importance of material reuse.
We spoke with Sarah Alessio Shea, an Environmental Program Specialist at the Pennsylvania Resources Council, to learn about ReuseFest.
What are the goals of ReuseFest?
Sarah: The main focus of ReuseFest is to 1) educate the public about these organizations, these great resources in the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County that can be utilized at any time. And 2) make the event a one-stop shop to collect material, keep it out of the landfill or trash and give it to nonprofits. One nonprofit, Construction Junction can sell the material at their store. Off the Floor, another nonprofit, connects the material with low-income families in the county.
You mentioned Construction Junction and Off the Floor Pittsburgh. How many partners are participating?
Sarah: We have 8 partners: Animal Rescue League, Construction Junction, Free Ride Pittsburgh, Global Links, Goodwill, Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse, the Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, and Off the Floor Pittsburgh.
These places are in Pittsburgh and they’re open year-round, so we don’t want people to think that this is the only time you can donate. Hopefully, we’ll give these organizations a little more publicity for the good work that they do. This is a way you can bring a bunch of stuff at one time rather than having to drive around to different areas of the city to drop it off.
You’ve held successful recycling events in the past, but this is the first one focused exclusively on material reuse. Is that right?
Sarah: We’ve done the Hard to Recycle collection events for almost 10 years now. We just kept getting more and more interest from reuse-focused organizations. So we thought if we did this type of event it would better serve their focuses instead of throwing them in with the recycling. We approached the Sprout Fund and pitched them our idea.Thankfully they were interested.
What can event-goers expect at ReuseFest?
Sarah: There are 2 facets of the event. One part will be a drive-through, drop-off in the large parking lot behind REI. People will load their cars up, drive down, and we’ll have volunteers there to unload materials.
Another part will be educational. We’re going to have some tables set up in the lot, but closer to 26th street near McCormick and Schmick’s Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse is going to have an arts and crafts table set up to attract people who happen to be out at the Southside Works at that time, come across the event and wonder “What is this? What’s going on?” We’ll have a table with information on all of our partner organizations. Some people might say, “Oh I actually have that material at home.” We’ll say, “That’s great, you can contact Global Links, Off the Floor, so on and so forth.”
About the Partner Nonprofits
Your donations find their way into good hands at one of these reuse-focused organizations:
Construction Junction is a non-profit retailer that sells used and surplus building materials.
Goodwill operates 30 stores in Southwestern Pennsylvania to support job training and employment programs for people with special needs.
Off the Floor Pittsburgh collects donated furniture for poor families—many are headed by mothers with 2-3 children who have come out of shelters, dependency programs or been illegally evicted. They serve 115 families each year, on average.
The Animal Rescue League collects food, shelter and supplies for abandoned, neglected, and injured animals to help restore them to new homes.
Free Ride teaches the public how to repair and maintain their own bikes.
Global Links provides surplus medical supplies and equipment to resource-poor communities primarily in Latin America and the Carribean.
Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse sells donated materials, and teaches the public how to reuse materials in creative ways through classes and workshops.
The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project collects reusable, sturdy bags to hold items from food banks and pantries.
Want to find a new home for your stuff? ReuseFest takes place on Saturday, August 11 from 10 am to 2 pm in the parking lot at 26th and Sidney Streets at South Side Works. For complete event details and a list of items accepted for collection, visit zerowastepgh.org/reuse.
Written by Courtney Patterson