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Aiming For Zero Waste: Home ReSource And The City Of Missoula
Montana Senior News April/May 2017
Back when many readers of this newspaper were growing up, the “3 R’s” referred to the educational basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Nowadays, that term has also come to mean something else— reduce, reuse, and recycle, in that order, as ways to downsize waste.

These other “3 R’s” do not qualify as new concepts, especially to Montanans raised on farms and ranches where thrift, stewardship, and resourcefulness have traditionally been practiced. But in the 21st century, they are playing a leading role in the Zero Waste movement to drastically shrink the amount of trash dumped into our landfills.

As the first Treasure State city with a Zero Waste goal, Missoula is currently developing a plan to decrease its waste by 90% by the year 2050. According to Jeremy Drake, Community Engagement Manager for Home ReSource, one simple way individuals can contribute to the effort is to ask themselves: “Do I really need to buy this new (fill in the blank)? This puts the first R, reduce, into action. That’s how we begin to use less stuff,” says Jeremy.

For a growing number of value-conscious Missoulians, that question’s answer has gradually switched from “yes” to “no.” Thanks to the efforts of places such as Home ReSource, a building materials reuse center, people are more aware of the wealth of used items ranging from ten-foot 2X4’s to one-inch nails that are available locally.

“When we buy fewer things and instead reuse what has already been made, we’re extending the life of those products. That creates less of a demand for manufacturing more things, which in turn helps keep natural resources in place and reduces what goes into our landfills. Aside from that,” adds Jeremy, “older items are typically made better than new products and cost less.”

Through his work with Home ReSource, Jeremy has met scores of home and business owners either donating building materials from their projects or purchasing used items. Bricks, lighting fixtures, doors, and windows just hint at the spectrum of what can be brought or bought here.

Missoulians engaged in remodels and deconstructions (versus demolitions, which end up in landfills) have good reasons for gifting used building materials to Home ReSource. Donations are tax-deductible and Home ReSource will pick up unwanted materials they can sell.

Romaine’s and Moonlight Kitchens are two Missoula companies that have worked with Home ReSource and followed the “3-R” philosophy while remodeling their business spaces. Romaine’s is Montana’s only Certified Green Restaurant ® featuring locally grown and sourced ingredients. Moonlight Kitchens are two commercial kitchens where farmers’ market entrepreneurs, caterers, or anyone cooking for a crowd can rent space.
Long before these owners were ready to open for business, they started buying used kitchen and restaurant equipment and rented storage units as holding areas.

“We paid half to a third of brand new for the equipment. This stuff never dies. It’s made of solid steel,” says Moonlight Kitchen’s Anne Little, who perused Craig’s List during the start-up phase for things like commercial stoves and double-stack convection ovens. Incidentally, the convection ovens she ended up buying were manufactured in 1953. And according to Anne, “They are still going strong.”

“With used equipment some parts may be worn and need to be replaced but I’d still prefer to buy old than new. Being wasteful is a luxury. I grew up here with that principle of reusing,” says Graham Roy, Romaine’s chef-owner whose goal was, “to create a bright atmosphere with rustic elements that included used wood.”

Besides acting as a clearing house for building supplies, this nonprofit is also a trusted referral center. When people need a reputable source for older materials not found there, Home ReSource gladly recommends businesses many customers never knew existed. Graham found their referrals especially helpful since he wanted as many previously used products as possible for his North Reserve Street restaurant. Through them, he learned about Bad Goat Lumber. Not only does Bad Goat deal in the kind of older wooden products he was seeking to create countertops, a dividing wall, and a menu board, but they also salvage trees that are about to be cut down.

In addition to buying as much previously owned equipment as possible, both Moonlight Kitchens and Romaine’s donated the building materials they could not reuse themselves to Home ReSource.

“Our dry wall and plywood went there and, in turn, we found some fencing that we could clean up and paint,” says Anne. Graham was able to donate items such as cabinets, sinks, and mirrors.

“If you are thinking about a remodel, go talk with the guys at Home ReSource.You’ll be surprised at the quality of the stuff they’ve got. You can find pretty much what you need in your own backyard. I don’t have any ruby slippers,” quips Anne, “but you might find some at Home ReSource.”
For more information: visit, call 406-541-8300, or stop by 1515 Wyoming Street.