In the past, waste materials from construction and demolition were largely sent to landfills, meaning many materials that could be reused ended up in the ground. Now, thanks to organizations like Chicago’s Rebuilding Exchange, some of those materials can find new life as furniture and other wood products.
Rebuilding Exchange, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a market for reclaimed building materials, began as a job training program to teach people carpentry and deconstruction skills. It now operates as a small furniture production shop. Since Rebuilding Exchange opened in 2009, it has removed thousands of tons of building materials from the waste stream and produced over $2 million of products that the public can purchase at the group’s retail warehouse.
The organization offers a line of furniture called RX Made, which they hope to expand to include other products with the help of a Kickstarter campaign running through December 13. “RX Made is on a mission to turn materials from the waste stream into well-made, well-designed products for everyone,” reads the description on the Kickstarter page.
RX Made has partnered with Strand Design, a Chicago firm that designs locally manufactured products, to create prototypes for their new products which include a bottle opener, a wall clock and a modular system that can serve as a bench or bookcase. The wood in these new products will either come from deconstructed buildings or urban trees that were afflicted by the Emerald Ash Borer disease, which would otherwise go to waste.
RX Made emphasizes the importance of community by sourcing their materials locally and employing local designers and craftspeople. They hope to continue creating local products and jobs while also helping grow the deconstruction and reuse industry. Building materials make up 40 percent of solid waste in our landfills, according to the video on RX Made’s Kickstarter page, and with projects like theirs, some of those materials can be repurposed.
To learn more and support the project, visit RX Made’s Kickstarter page.
Homepage image: RX Made