Recycling and reuse go way beyond just cans and bottles. At least two local small businesses have built their operations around another reusable material that’s both sturdy and beautiful: wood.
Anew Lumber Co.
Michael Kraus began Anew more than a year ago after noticing all of the usable lumber discarded during construction projects. It was a straightforward idea to remove nails and other debris, then resell or reuse the wood. Crucially, Kraus could provide an on-site container for less the cost of a regular dumpster destined for the landfill. With multiple dumpster loads of lumber collected per week, savings for a developer would quickly add up to thousands of dollars.
Since Anew began, it has primarily worked with a multifamily project in south Fayetteville and has expanded beyond wood, collecting plywood, scrap metal, concrete, polystyrene and cardboard for resale as well. Drywall’s proving more difficult to recycle, but even without it, Kraus said he’s proud of achieving roughly 80% diversion from the landfill. That comes to around 400 tons of material so far that will be put to new use rather than buried.
Its founder is Anew’s only personnel for now, so the company’s in a holding pattern as Kraus devotes the bulk of his time to another young local company, Food Loops, and its growing event food waste and recycling collection operations. But he sees enormous potential in construction material recycling, if it can get some momentum and scale.
“We’re crawling,” Kraus said of Northwest Arkansas. “We could walk. We could run.”
Another one-man operation is Fayetteville’s 2ndlifewood, which sells custom-made, handcrafted wooden furniture using local trees that fall on their own or are taken down by development or tree removal companies.
“I don’t cut down a single tree,” said owner Dylan Taylor, a former landscaper who bought 2ndlifewood from its original owner in 2018. He’ll pick up downed trees for free, a benefit to landowners and removal companies alike, then painstakingly dry the wood over 18 months or longer to avoid warping and other issues.
Walnut, oak, maple, cherry — even overlooked trees can offer incredible quality and durability, Taylor said. Families can keep a single table or headboard over lifetimes, repairing and refinishing when needed, rather than repeatedly buying and tossing out low-quality furniture that can’t be fixed.
A lifelong Northwest Arkansan, Taylor said he also aims to play a small part in slowing down what he called the short-sighted and wasteful overuse of our local trees.
“There’s plenty of options out there,” he said.
Connect with 2ndlifewood through its website, linked above, or on Facebook.
This post is part of a continuing series highlighting local businesses and initiatives that not only collect recyclable materials but also put them to use right here in Northwest Arkansas. Find our previous features here: