Tour showcases businesses built with reused materials

GRAWN – Odom Reuse Co. has taken recycling to a whole new level by offering a retail outlet for reusable building materials. From doors, windows, sinks, faucets, lighting and cabinets to paneling, framing and flooring, the materials save money and natural resources while reducing waste.

With reasonable care, and a dry roof overhead, construction materials can last for centuries.

"The novelty is not that the materials are reused, it's that we're not throwing away things that are perfectly fine," owner Bruce Odom explained. "Prior to the 1940s, everything was reused. People would've never have thought to throw it all away and buy brand new. There was a real strong reaction to our store when we opened here seven years ago, like people were just waiting for something like this. And we've been growing steadily ever since."

And despite the myth that reclaimed materials will not provide a beautiful, high-quality product, they produce a professional and modern looking outcome. To showcase some of buildings that have used reclaimed materials, Odom Reuse Co. is hosting a tour of homes and businesses that have used reclaimed materials in their construction and renovation.

The public is invited to attend the tour on Saturday, April 9. Participants will meet in the morning at the Traverse City Farmers Market, where they will carpool to two downtown homes for the morning session. The afternoon half will tour two businesses and two homes in Benzie County, including Food For Thought's food processing facility and the Michigan Land Use Institute's offices. Cost is $10 with a free jar of preserves going to the first 80 first-time visitors to Food for Thought.

Co-sponsoring the tour is SEEDS, a local non-profit promoting solutions for sustainable communities; the Michigan Land Use Institute, one of the nation's premiere Smart Growth and land use advocates; and Food For Thought, a local producer of organic preserves and other fine foods.

Timothy Young, owner and chef of Food For Thought, built his home, garage and shop and his over 5,000 square-foot business almost exclusively with recycled building materials.

"The house is 100 percent recycled," Young said. "I tore down two barns and an old house, which had been built with recycled materials, so some of the materials are on their third generation of use. Each place had a unique history, too, which I have learned to appreciate about old buildings."

Young admits recycling like he did took a lot of time, which is why when he started his business, he turned to Odom Reuse Co. for the building materials. He also used Michigan white pine for the floors, non-toxic paints and special non-toxic construction glue. Food For Thought prides itself on being an enviro-friendly business that specializes in locally grown, organic products.

"Some might argue that it costs businesses more money to be sustainable, which might be true in some cases. It often costs more in time than in money," Young said. "We compost everything at Food For Thought and it is labor intensive, so we bought a compactor and that has made the process more efficient. Plus, we do a little farming here on five acres, so we use it there."

There is a growing sector of the general economy that is willing to pay a little more if the products they're buying are organic, friendly to the environment, and have a social conscious. Young says approximately 30-35 percent of the general buying public consider themselves to be a "green consumer" up from 10 percent just five years ago.

Pre-registration for the tour is required. Call (231) 276-6330. Meeting time will be determined as event nears. Details will be updated at www BN