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Part of the solution

Clallam County has a problem.

"We're sending 58,000 tons a year to the dump that is closed," said Gavin Wuttken. Because the Port Angeles landfill has reached capacity, solid waste is trucked to Boardman, Ore.

"Our mission is to lower the waste," said Sally Wuttken, Gavin's wife.

On Saturday, Oct. 10, they opened Around Again, where used building materials and furniture that might have been trashed instead can be purchased.

They sometimes have new products for sale, donated by a builder who over-bought for a project or someone who didn't get around to using an item.

Although the first day's business brought in less than $25, it was a great day for the Wuttkens because the customers' enthusiasm for their store and mission were so great, Sally said.

Around Again is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, so donations are tax-deductible. It also offers pick-up service, which has been well-received by local contractors who may have surplus building materials or items removed in a remodel job.

The Wuttkens are glad to pick up donated items that are in good condition without major damage, including a wide variety of building materials, tools, plumbing and electrical supplies, and indoor or outdoor furniture. They also accept selected collectibles and usable leftover paint.

They do not accept a few things, such as clothing, electronics and hazardous materials such as

asbestos.

For a couple of years, Gavin worked at Waste Not, Want Not at 724 E. First St. in Port Angeles, a similar outlet for reusable building materials. Sally called it their "inspiration" and a source of ideas for Around Again.

"We wanted to take it into the greener, more nonprofit direction," Sally said. "We're trying to make it fun and informative."

The education process starts right in their showroom, where Gavin constructed their sales counter from bowling lanes taken from Laurel Lanes during a remodel. The base cabinet is made of reused hollow-core doors, with a barrel at the corner and a picket fence gate for access behind the counter.

The Wuttkens hope to offer classes to help people learn sustainable living practices such as reducing the use of toxic substances and limiting unnecessary water use.

One such idea is a flushing system for toilets like the one they've installed in their store, which can save up to 30,000 gallons of water a year for a household of four, Sally said. In Sequim, that water reduction alone would save a homeowner more than $70 per year.

"Gavin can show people how to do it," she said.

To help people save gas, they have arranged to be a pick-up point for Wild Birds Unlimited in Gardiner and hope to set up similar arrangement for local farm orders.

They also hope to collect drywall for recycling. Tacoma has one of only two drywall recyclers in the nation, Gavin said.

"They can make new drywall out of old drywall."

Though the Wuttkens don't accept electronics for resale, they collect cell phones for recycling.

A contributing factor to the solid waste problem, Gavin said, is that people tend to focus on the immediate cost rather than the whole life cycle of a product, which includes the costs of manufacturing, distribution or delivery, consumer use and disposal.

Stringent solid waste reduction efforts, such as those seen in Seattle, California and in other countries, have not been resulted in statewide legal mandates in Washington, Sally said.

The Wuttkens are not alone in their efforts. Waste Not, Want Not is one example. In addition, Habitat for Humanity operates a "Re-Store" at 728 E. Front St. in Port Angeles, with all proceeds supporting Habitat's Clallam County house building fund.

Although Web sites such as www.2good2toss.com and the Yahoo group Clallam County Freecycle help keep things out of the landfill, Gavin said, "They're minuscule compared to the problem."

The Wuttkens are setting up a membership system so they can notify people by e-mail of special events and classes.

Their Web site, currently in development, will list their inventory and have links to information on reuse and sustainable practices.



Reach Sandra Frykholm at sfrykholm@sequim

gazette.com.





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