Engagement. Agency. Empowerment. Three concepts that were new to many of us a few years ago are now part of our everyday workplace environment at Finger Lakes ReUse. They have emerged as components of our ReUse Center culture, manifested in the actions and ongoing dedication of individuals who may have traditionally felt marginalized or disenfranchised by society, but have found a place and a meaningful role in the breadth and complexities of tasks made available through the activity and industry of reuse. Too many local families don’t have a computer for their children to do their homework. Too many people are un-employed or under-employed.
Five of our employees were hired through the Department of Social Services Community Work Experience program, so instead of receiving public assistance, they are now self-sufficient wage earners.
Unemployment and underemployment persist as one of the greatest challenges facing upstate NY communities. The ReUse of materials transforms local liabilities or "waste" back into local assets in the form of revenues, workforce development tools, sales tax, and quality jobs.
Since opening our first ReUse Center in a shopping mall in Lansing less than five years ago, we have created 14 living wage jobs, sold $1.1 million in used merchandise (more than 400,000 items), and earned an additional $208,000 in deconstruction service fees, delivery charges, and for computer repair services. Finger Lakes ReUse, Inc. has been actively transforming liabilities (solid waste) into community assets (taxable, durable goods, living wage jobs, and job training opportunities). These taxable goods and services have so far generated more than $100,000 in sales tax.
The action of reusing materials has a rich variety of positive multiplying effects. Diversion from landfills, reducing trucking and transport and harmful CO2, harnessing embodied energy, preserving natural resources, creating jobs and job training opportunities, empowerment and re-entry opportunities, and plus, it’s fun!
Meanwhile, the world’s largest landfills have been closing, and they are only 25-55 years old. 30%-40% of the nation’s waste stream consists of construction and demolition debris. If we could extend the life of every personal computer in the U.S. by 50%, we would reduce CO2 emissions by 25 million metric tons.
Seneca Meadows in upstate NY may become one of the world's largest active landfills over the next 10 years.
2001 - Fresh Kills – Staten Island, NY CLOSED
(54 years old – 29,000 TPD)
2011 - Bordo Poniente – Mexico CLOSED
(26 years old – 15,000 TPD)
2012 - Jardim Gramacho – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil CLOSED
(34 years old – 9,000 TPD)
TPD – Tons Per Day