Everyday is Earth Day at Habitat


Everyday is Earth Day at Habitat

Submitted byVictoria Erhart

When people think of Habitat for Humanity, they think of “that group that builds homes for poor people.” This is true. Habitat for Humanity across the country and around the world does partner with low income families to build affordable housing. As one of the largest residential home builders in the US, (3,235 homes completed in 2015), Habitat for Humanity is also deeply involved in green building, recycling and construction waste reduction. Habitat for Humanity house plans have been specially designed to reduce construction waste through the efficient use of both construction materials and space in the homes.

Since 1991 when it opened its first ReStore to re-sell deeply discounted donated construction materials, Habitat ReStores across the country have diverted 124,000 tons of usable goods from landfills. Habitat locations are also major recyclers. The Metro Denver Habitat ReStore recycles nine tones of metal each week. Closer to home, the much smaller Espanola Habitat ReStore recycles thousands of pounds of mattresses, pieces of furniture, building materials and used clothing monthly. Habitat in Espanola also recycles thousands of pounds of scrap metal from donated metal shelves to old auto clunkers, running or not. Functional vehicles, boats, tractors, are sold through an auto salvage company. Non-functioning vehicles are sold for sheet metal. The donor receives a charitable tax deduction and Habitat receives much need funds to support its affording housing construction program.

Habitat truck piled high with scrap metal for recycling. Courtesy image

Items donated to Habitat Espanola’s ReStore, thrift store and newly opened furniture store are re-sold at deep discounts to help keep local money circulating in the local economy. Buying locally also greatly reduces the carbon footprint associated with the purchase of materials already available locally.

The Habitat thrift store in Espanola resells hundreds of pounds of donated clothing each week. The thrift store also passes on donated formal wear to Pojoaque Valley School “Prom Closet” for teens who need but cannot afford to purchase prom clothes.

In partnership with Computer Charities New Mexico in Santa Fe, Habitat in Espanola recycles e-waste responsibly. This e-waste includes hundreds of pounds of used toner cartridges.

Habitat employee Angelo Tinoco sorts used toner cartridges for recycling
. Courtesy image

According to Earth911.org, over 370 million toner and inkjet cartridges are sold in the US annually, but no more than 30% are recycled. Tossed into the landfill, a toner cartridge takes 450 years to decompose. Recycling just one toner cartridge saves almost 2 pounds of metal and plastic from the landfill and 1 gallon of oil not used to produce a new toner cartridge.

As part of its mission to eliminate poverty housing globally, Habitat for Humanity also addresses the environmental impact of its building programs. Habitat in Espanola sells GreenSheen remanufactured paint. At the GreenSheen factory in Colorado, leftover paint is blended togather, strained to filter out any impurities and repackaged as GreenSheen Paint for sale in a number of colors at 25%-30% below the original price of paint sold in hardware stores. According to EPA estimates, 400 million (yes million) gallons of leftover latex paint is dumped into landfills in the US each year. Every gallon of recycled paint saves approximately 100 kilowatt hours of energy in its manufacture and avoids the release of 115 pounds of carbon dioxide into the environment. Buying GreenSheen paint helps reduce this massive carbon footprint. Shopping at Habitat for Humanity makes it possible for consumers to save money and help the environment at the same time.

Visit your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, thrift store and furniture store at 726 North Riverside Drive in Espanola. Open Monday-Saturday 9 AM – 6 PM through the summer.