DALLAS — Have you ever wondered what happens to street sweeper brushes when they get worn out? Yeah, we never gave that much thought either. Apparently, though, they make for great back scratchers for livestock and zoo animals.
Since climate change is one of the biggest issues of our time, we’re doing a series this year called Greener on the Money, looking at how environmental solutions can also make for a bustling business.
We start with a store called Repurposed Materials in Forest Hill, just southeast of Fort Worth, where they have sold a lot of those discarded street sweeper brushes. Director of Operations Ryan Groth says another thing they sell a lot of: “Old bowling alley wood”. That hot commodity is used to create unique tabletops, butcher blocks, or a shuffleboard.
The store specializes in materials that are used, but still have a lot of use left…often for purposes that were never intended. The company's Instagram page is full of creative DIY inspiration.
Take, for instance, worn conveyor belts – huge rolls of them – the industries that used them now consider them trash, but they can be treasure for buyers with all kinds of repurposing ideas. Groth says, people reuse it. A lot of it is used to put down a track to drive on.”
Old conveyer is also used for garden pathways, RV skirting, and, popular in Texas, as fence lining that creates a windbreaker for cows. We’ve also seen conveyer belts used to line the sides of cattle corrals. Used metal road guardrails have also been used for that purpose. Groth says even though he sees these transformations all the time, he is still amazed by how creative people can be.
The Forest Hill location is one of six across the country, and Repurposed Materials says this location is the third busiest in the company. The inventory comes from companies, schools, and governments. The items are usually sold for half of what they would cost new. Buyers are companies, farmers, ranchers, governments and just regular people. Groth says anyone is free to check out inventory on the company’s website or to come in and browse, “Yeah, it’s open to the public."
It’s fun to look at all the creative second lives people conjure up for these resold materials, but this all started when founder Damon Carson was working in solid waste and saw far too much stuff being thrown away when it still had useful life. “Keep in mind, all this stuff was destined for the landfill,” says Groth.
Carson says many businesses looking to reduce their own carbon footprints have been reaching out to Repurposed Materials to offer up items for which they no longer have a use. Repurposed Materials estimates that, just last year, they provided jobs and made money while also keeping 16 million pounds of stuff out of landfills.