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Bring-ing sustainable building to Eugene

Started in a community that places high value on sustainability and environmental advocacy, Bring Recycling has flourished as a place to both educated the public about the benefits of recycling and provide the Eugene community with a place to practice what it so often preaches: reduce, reuse, recycle. For more than four decades, Bring has given materials a second life and added to the conversation about environmental sustainability and reducing humans’ footprint.
“When I first moved to Eugene, I wasn’t surprised to find a store like Bring,” says Hannah Slater, a University graduate and Bring volunteer. “Eugene definitely has a reputation of being more than a little environmentally conscious.”

Inspired by the first Earth Day in 1971, @@[email protected]@Bring’s Planet Improvement Center opened its doors and minds to the idea of reusing materials to create something new. In the first year, the organization collected more than 400 tons of glass, and tried to inspire the community to embrace the idea of recycling and recreating. Community members can bring anything in good, usable condition to the recycling center, such as doors, bookcases, piping, windows and everything in between. These materials are then used to build other structures in a cheaper, more eco-friendly way.

Russel Meyer of Springfield looks for plumbing parts for a home improvement project at the Bring Recycling's Planet Improvement Center. (Aaron Marineau/Oregon Daily Emerald)

“Basically, if you can think of a building material or a product that you could find in a house, odds are pretty good that we’ll have at least one,” says Ben Zeblin, Bring warehouse supervisor. “We get a little bit of everything here.”

The materials are even made into sculptures and art. The Planet Improvement Center has a rotating exhibit of artwork featuring arts and crafts made out of recycled materials. This simple idea has extended the life of functional building materials, making creating new things cheaper and more sustainable.

“Bring is so much more than a ‘re-store;’ they do so much to encourage and educate the community in how to lead more sustainable and eco-friendly lives,” Slater says.

Bring Recycling’s Planet Improvement Center stands on Franklin Boulevard in a colorful building made, of course, of recycled materials. Bring’s headquarters is surrounded by “The Garden of Earthly Delight,” a garden constructed by former University students, inspired by Bring to create a garden demonstrating responsible landscape techniques. A temple of all faiths stands in the middle of the garden, serving as a celebration of people with common goals and different faiths. Planters in the garden are made up of recycled materials as well, including old metal garbage cans and leftover stadium light hoods. A large rhinoceros, who recently received a makeover, stands in the garden as a recycled reminder of the great creations that can come from used materials.

“The garden just shows you the range and variety of things we get here,” Zeblin says.

The garden is designed to help community members learn to garden and build as sustainably as possible. For example, the garden boasts systems that allow your garden to be hydrated by rainwater flowing off your roof, rather than from a hose. The garden often hosts celebrations and events, and recently even a wedding.

“The gardens are kind of an in-house project,” Zeblin says. “The walls were designed by one of our employees with a background in architecture. It’s really a creative use of PVC pipes.”

Bring is also working towards a bigger picture. It collaborates with other companies to create recycled and sustainable residential and commercial buildings. Bring helped construct the Ecotrust Building (Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) in the Pearl District of Portland with 98 percent of materials either from landfills, recycled or reclaimed. It also helped build the Omey House in North Portland, built with more than 85 percent recycled [email protected]@[email protected]@ @@[email protected]@

Bring allocates time and energy to educating the community about the benefits and usefulness of its recycling program. It gives presentations to clubs, service organizations and community centers and lead how-to workshops. It also visits K-12 classrooms throughout Lane County to educate children about recycling and the environment.

“Bring has such a positive and proactive approach to sustainability, similar to the mindset of most of the people of Eugene,” Slater says. “And even if being eco-friendly isn’t the first thing on your mind, it’s still a great place to find cheap furniture, paint and hardware.”

Bring’s dedication towards sustainability is giving the people of Eugene the (recycled) materials necessary to build a greener, more environmentally friendly future.

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