Nonprofits improving our town by using products we would throw away

By Maria Saporta

What do the Atlanta Community Food Bank, MedShare and Lifecycle Building Center have in common?

Each nonprofit provides an opportunity for products to be used or reused, and each one of them prevent products from being thrown away and ending up in a landfill.

Executives from each organization were part of a panel discussion on Friday at the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable on “Transforming the World through Reuse.”

Bill Bolling, founder and executive director of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, has been finding ways to capture food before it’s thrown away so it can be donated to hungry families having a hard time making ends meet. The Food Bank has broadened its efforts beyond just food to school supplies and other retail products that are taken off shelves when they are out of season.

MedShare has been working with hospitals and medical supply companies to make sure that medical equipment that is usually thrown away after just being used one time can be reused and shipped to countries in great need of those products.

Charles Redding, chief operating officer for MedShare, said it prefers to use the word — “repurpose.” By partnering with manufacturers of surgical equipment and medical supplies, it becomes a “win-win” for all parties involved. MedShare has 12,000 volunteers in Atlanta who help pack boxes and containers that are shipped to countries around the world.

Adam Deck, director of operations of the Lifecycle Building Center, said the 20-month-old organization is still gearing up. But the potential is significant because “40 percent of what we put in our landfills are construction supplies.” Deck said the Center aims to get those products before they end up in landfills and make them available to be reused for other construction projects.

As the program came to a close, Bolling said that all efforts to improve our community are welcome.

“Whatever you do, do it well,” Bolling said, adding it can be through food or energy conservation or transportation or urban agriculture or housing. “Just walk through one of the doors. Don’t get caught up on which door you walk through.”

Bolling, a philosopher-saint in our midst, said that if a family can save money through energy conservation or by using transit, it will have more money to buy food or to spend on housing. It all works out in the end.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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