Non-profit organization Build It Green and the city’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE) co-hosted the second annual Recyclefest block party last Saturday in Astoria.
OROE had an intake table set up for the Stop & Swap, an event in which attendees brought their old clothing, books, house ware items, and other small miscellaneous items in exchange for the opportunity to rummage through other people’s discards.
David Hurd, director of OROE, estimated that about 90 percent of the items brought in are taken away by new owners.
“This is a great opportunity for people to be able to get things for free that they might otherwise have to pay for. They seem to be very receptive, particularly in a tough economic climate,” said Hurd.
Those who attended the block party were also encouraged to browse through Build It Green’s inventory, the only items that weren’t free. Build It Green accepts tax-deductible donations of recycled building materials and resells them to raise money for environmental education.
“A lot of times when people are building green, it costs more money - and not necessarily a lot - but a little more,” said Justin Green, Build It Green’s program director. “Here, they actually save money.”
Thrifty consumers can purchase doors, windows, lumber, paint, and even home appliances at savings of up to 75 percent off the cost of new building materials.
Green often describes the retail outlet as a hybrid of a Home Depot and a Goodwill store. He estimated that Build It Green diverted about 450 tons of materials and saved shoppers nearly $1 million in building costs last year.
“Not only are we keeping building materials out of landfills, we’re also saving New Yorkers money,” said Green. “It’s this effort to change people’s attitudes about the environment, to make them aware and to make it more of a standard response.”