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ASID Wisconsin and The Green Design Center’s First Annual Sample Recycling Event a Success


On Friday, August 22nd and Saturday, August 23rd, 2014, the Wisconsin Chapter of ASID’s Sustainability Advocacy Committee, in coordination with The Green Design Center of Waukesha, Wisconsin, held the first annual Sample Recycling Event to find a home for unused and unwanted commercial design materials. By the end of the two-day event, 8,965 pounds of materials had been diverted from landfills across the state, a success already beyond the committee’s greatest hopes for this newborn event—but the value didn’t stop there.

In 2011, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) followed the guidance of the national chapter and hired a Sustainability Advocate Chair. The primary purpose of this position was to reduce the environmental impacts of the Chapter and its operations. In 2014, with chapter operational best practices in place, a committee with the ability to tackle larger initiatives was convened. One of the committee’s first tasks was to create a “wish list” of sustainable initiatives. The list grew with such items as a carpooling database for members to utilize when traveling to chapter events, a sustainability checklist for chapter members’ homes and offices, LEED® Green Associate exam preparation, and a recycling program for discontinued design materials.

The latter was identified as an opportunity to not only assist design and product manufacturing firms in diverting large amounts of discarded materials from landfills, but also to provide these materials to interested parties who may give them a second life. Collection drives began during Earth Week with a goal of accumulating 8,000 pounds. By the time of the event, over 10,085 pounds of tile, carpet, laminate, wood, windows, wallpaper, binders, and so much more had flooded in. Meanwhile, the ASID Wisconsin sustainability committee members were hard at work advertising the event on Facebook pages, Craig’s List, local publications, after-school clubs, and most notably, regional school districts. As sources of inspiration, raffle prizes, such as carpet checker boards, fabric patchwork pillows, a tiled coffee table, and mosaic garden tiles, were fashioned from collected materials..

Friends, co-workers, community volunteers, and scores of teachers who attended the event were thrilled by their finds and ready to provide them with a second life in community gardens, local clubs, and classrooms all across the state. With over 10,000 pounds of castoff materials collected from firms, a fantastic turnout, and 8,965 pounds of samples adopted, this first-time event was wildly successful. Yet, while committee members walked through the Green Design Center warehouse and among the tables outside, obscured by boxes upon boxes of goodies waiting to be claimed, our delight in seeing the immense amount of materials diverted from the landfill was overshadowed by the joy and gratitude of those attending the event.

Attendees shared their ideas enthusiastically: community gardeners spoke of using tile to landscape their gardens, and teachers enthused about creating multi-media art projects, stencils, presentation boards, and so much more for their students. Our goal of reducing the environmental impact of landfilling these samples was certainly achieved, but we had uncovered something even greater in the process: the interconnectedness of environmental and social impacts for good.

On behalf of the ASID Wisconsin sustainability committee and The Green Design Center, we would like to thank all those that volunteered, donated, attended, and spread the word. We are very pleased with the outcome of this first annual sample recycling event and look forward to seeing it grow next year.

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Author: Samantha Longshore

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