Re-use Hawai’i

by John Vasko

In a world that seems to be getting smaller everyday it is becoming increasingly necessary to use resources more efficiently. If resources run out we will be in trouble, and this is very real scenario.

Reuse is part of the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” philosophy with all 3 components helping to reduce footprint size of whatever is in question. When most people think of recycling they will think of bottle and cans, but recycling in the general sense can be done with other resources as well.

There are a number of businesses looking to solve the problems created by human consumption. One such organization that participates in the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” philosophy is Re-use Hawaii. “Re-use Hawaii is a vibrant non-profit organization working to reduce waste through building material reuse and recycling” (1). Although, the mission statement doesn’t include the keyword “reduce,” reduction is hopefully what would inevitably happen from reusing and recycling building materials. Their website is:
Re-use Hawaii is located in town at:
200 Keawe St in Kakaako

Re-use Hawaii actually has a huge warehouse, and when entering the facility there are all kinds of materials that have been salvaged prior to demolitions. Lots of different kinds of pipe / lumber / metal exist. There is a stack of window jalousies that are totally free and the low wattage light bulbs are only 25 cents. Re-use Hawaii has even partnered with HNL Tool Library as a recent development. These 2 organizations seem to be a good match for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. After all, a lot of the salvaged materials at Re-use Hawaii may need to be re-machined in order to get exactly the right fit.

With all the salvaged material it is understandable that there can be a significant amount of effort in understanding what parts are going to be salvaged and cleaning up materials for sale. Other kinds of issues associated with the business process involve disposing of materials that can not be brought to market. These materials can be recycled elsewhere at a more traditional recycling facility. All of the efforts performed will be taking a dent out of the environmental footprint that would otherwise ensue.

The cost of the lease for the building is 20,000/month (2) and there is a large staff to support. Nevertheless, the organization is able to stay in business since 2007, and while creating a smaller footprint on the worlds resources jobs are being created in Hawaii. Like other organizations Re-use Hawaii is receiving incentive in the form of grants to tackle problems that do not seem to be addressed with the “business as usual” pattern ie) being overly wasteful. As much as 1/3 of Oahu’s waste comes in the form of construction materials. By continuing operation Re-use Hawaii is helping to create a more sustainable island economy and a more inhabitable world.

(2) Actual figure can be obtained from Re-use Hawaii Form 990 on