Here at Random Acts of Green, we shine a light on the small adjustments we can all make to our everyday activities to help improve our environmental impact. We partner with like-minded businesses who, at their core, consider their eco-impact as a part of their mandate.
We want to highlight two Random Acts of Green Business Members who are doing their part for the environment through respectively redirecting unwanted: homewares, retail displays, construction refuse and waste from schools and museums (to name just a few sources) from landfill every day.
Let us introduce you to:
Audra from Junk in the Trunk, located in Michigan, US. Junk in the Trunk specialize in removing unwanted items from your home or business at a reasonable cost. Items are then either, resold (at a very reasonable cost), repurposed or donated.
And to Heather from Re4m Design + Fabrication, located in Ottawa. Re4m primarily collects waste pipe, metal, wood and plastic from business owners and commercial spaces. These components (that would otherwise end up in landfill), are used by the Re4m team to craft amazing displays, signage, furnishings and homewares.
We wanted to share their answers with you so you can hear more about their sustainable practices and to give you a little food-for-thought when you’re decluttering your homes and workplaces.
Let’s hear what they had to say:
RAOG: What’s the most interesting piece you have made or found?
Audra: The most interesting item I was asked to remove was an antique 1940’s full size metal coffin with a metal stand. Don’t worry a body wasn’t included. 😂 It came from a Halloween collector who decorated his home top to bottom in creepy Halloween Decor.
Heather: Re4m has made LOTS of interesting pieces ranging from a giant seven foot tall easter egg to outfitting a cat cafe with a built in cat “maze” . Our unique clientele (Local Business Owners) always have interesting and innovative projects that we are lucky enough to assist with. On the flip side, we also work with business owners and organizations to reduce their landfill bound materials and “waste”. Some local museums are on our material diversion program and we have definitely received some interesting pieces from them such as 300 lbs of recycled plastic sheets made from plastic in the ocean and a travelling exhibit on the Earth’s core from the 60’s!
RAOG: What’s the most shocking statistic you’ve heard surrounding retail/home waste?
Audra: I find it shocking how many people don’t understand the recycling process. I don’t have exact numbers but most households are amazed by how much of their trash can actually be recycled.
Heather: Approximately 75% of IC&I waste goes to landfill (Industrial, Commercial and Institutional) and in 2018, Ontario’s IC&I sector disposed over 6 million Tonnes of waste.!
RAOG: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Heather: The most challenging part is declining materials! Unfortunately we cannot recycle or upcycle all of the materials that are offered, and we often need to be careful on how much we accept due to limited warehouse space.
RAOG: Why does sustainability resonate with you personally?
Audra: At Junk in the Trunk, our goal is to keep as much out of landfills as possible. In fact it’s not just our goal it’s our passion. We take the extra time and steps to recycle, donate, resell, restoring items because we enjoy doing it. Just knowing that the items we remove on a weekly(sometimes daily) basis may have ended up in a dumpster, and we prevented that. We have around 6,500 square foot of storage space, over 4 years we believe(estimated) we filled and redistributed the items in this space at least 20 times. This is us doing our part to not only erase our footprint but hopefully erase the footprints of others as well.
Heather: I grew up in a small town north of Orillia, Ontario. My summers were spent enjoying the local waterfalls, lakes and forests. I find I always seek a natural, outdoor setting when life gets too stressful. Sadly, within the past 10 years I have heard of my home municipality changing. The local waterfall has closed because of toxins in the water, they plan to build a subdivision on farming land, and they closed a local hiking trail due to people dumping. For this reason and many more, I want myself and Re4m to be part of the positive changes that we all want to see!
RAOG: Can you take us through an average day in your work life?
Audra: There’s nothing average about our day. I started a business I would enjoy working at everyday, I wanted to make the rules. One day we might be removing unwanted treasures, the next we might be planning how or who to donate 8 gently used beds to.
There’s nothing we haven’t seen, or smelled for that matter:
- A bedroom full of nude photos ✅
- A mummified cat ✅
- Rare antique toys ✅
- A house filled from ceiling to floor of mostly yarn ✅
- Abandoned homes that look as if someone just up and walked away leaving their entire life behind ✅
Heather: The days at Re4m are always different! But it does normally involve chatting with my clients about projects they have in mind and helping them think of unique solutions. I often walk about our “Material Room” where we have a collection of odds and ends that inspire designs for our clients. For example, they may want a really authentic reception sign and we happen to spot an old Farmhouse light fixture, scrap acrylic, and old fence board in our material room. Voila! A reception sign with a wooden based backboard, a laser cut logo out of the plastic and to top it off, the light fixture shines on their logo for dramatic flare.
We hope that you enjoyed our quick Q&A with these leading ladies in sustainability! If you want to hear more about Audra and Heather and their respective businesses, you can view their websites by clicking their logos below: