Making use of ReUSE

Royal Street is known for its antique shops, and the Warehouse District is known for its art galleries and museums. In the same vein, a group of nonprofits hopes a new initiative will make a crossroads of downtown neighborhoods the city’s destination for reclaimed, recycled and salvaged goods.

It is called the ReUse District, and a collection of groups and businesses including The Green Project, Habitat Restore, Preservation Resource Center Salvage Store, Rebuilding Together, Marigny Green and St. Claude Main Street are working together to draw more attention to the recycling resources in their area.

“It’s like an arts district, which are all over the place, but in terms of reuse this could be the first of its kind in the country,” says Beth Stelson, marketing and outreach coordinator for the Green Project. “Everyone should be able to afford to be an environmentalist and these organizations and businesses in the district show that you can save money by being responsible, so we hope this raises awareness.”

The idea for the ReUse District sprang from the coincidence of several groups selling discounted building materials and salvaged architectural elements all in the same area. Drawn by the availability of large warehouses in the Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and St. Roch neighborhoods, the Green Project, Rebuilding Together and Habitat Restore found themselves operating in close proximity. Between these various groups, shoppers might find a discontinued brand of modern window, a screen door to fit an extra-tall New Orleans egress or appliances and light fixtures, all at prices kept deliberately south of retail norms and all benefiting nonprofit programs. Contractors, handy homeowners and volunteer groups helping rebuild local homes regularly make the rounds of these places for supplies.

But to develop the ReUse District, organizers are looking beyond the building trades and household needs. About 40 businesses and organizations have been identified as potential members in an area that stretches from Esplanade Avenue to the Industrial Canal. The list includes secondhand bookstores and thrift shops, art studios showcasing work made with found objects, urban farms and even auto repair shops using salvaged car parts.

“It’s open to all the organizations and the businesses in this area that hold the principle of reuse,” says Stelson. “We’re taking a liberal sense of what reuse is, but that also helps show how easy it is to reuse and how many ways it’s actually going on already.”

For a directory of district members, see

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