San Francisco nonprofit keeps items out of landfills

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Building Resources, near San Francisco's Pier 92, is the city's sole supplier of reusable building and landscaping materials.

"Literally everything that you see in a house or a building, we carry at one time or another," said director, Ed Dunn.

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Dunn started a recycling center after Earth Day in 1970. By the '90s, he saw a need for resource conservation in the construction industry and opened Building Resources in 1995.

"I mean doors, windows, lumber, bricks, tile, sinks, faucets, electrical fixtures, lighting fixtures. I mean it'd be better if you asked us if we took something, would we say no and I don't ever say no," said Dunn of their inventory.

The nonprofit acquires items through donations. That includes leftovers from construction projects or things that have been salvaged during demolition. Employees are also available to pick up materials from work sites and homes. That's team member Chris Sanor's main job.

"Every time you think you've seen a house that you didn't think somebody would tear down, but then they start taking it down and you kind of take on a personal mission to save some goodness out of it," said Sanor.

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Kevin Stamm is a general contractor and regular customer. "We're doing a full-scale remodel to our house. We added a third story, the exterior's mostly done, we still have the interior to do."

He appreciates the wide variety of inventory and thinks it's important to shop here. "It recycles materials. It keeps stuff out of the waste stream," said Stamm.
Building Resources also has an art gallery, selling pieces made from all recycled materials. Artists submit their work made with things like plastic bags, tea labels, and tin foil. Co-Curator of the Gallery, Angel Gurgovits, enjoys the creativity.

"Well, it's a visual candy bar of sorts. You know where you really can just come in here and just feast on all this color and new art every time," said Gurgovits.

Whether shopping for art, or a kitchen sink, Dunn says the customers deserve all the credit.

"Well they're the real heroes, okay? Because what we do is we take the stuff in and we try to put it away in an organized fashion so people can find it and purchase it. But it's the customers who choose to reuse and they're the ones that are really saving the planet, so to speak."

Ed Dunn and the Building Resources team also offer sustainability education and workshops focusing on reuse. You can find out more about the organization here.

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