Repurpose and Reuse - Zero Landfill 2017

Wouldn’t it be great if we found a way to eliminate the need for landfills? It’s an awesome concept, but unfortunately, we have a long road ahead. On the bright side, there are ways designers can reduce the volume of waste by repurposing and recycling materials that have outlived their usefulness.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the IIDA’s Zero Landfill committee for the Houston City Center. The whole concept of the Zero Landfill event is for the committee to collect building materials from architecture and design firms that are in good condition but no longer needed from architecture and design firms, product vendors, and manufacturers. After the collection is complete, the committee holds an event for teachers, artists, and the public to come out and take the materials to reuse or repurpose for various projects. These can range from plastic laminate samples to pallets of tile. In my opinion, the best part is that everything is free! The goal is to help keep samples and discontinued building materials out of our landfills.


The Zero Landfill event is also great for architecture firms because it give us a chance to responsibly clean out samples from past projects. With VLK’s recent Houston office renovation and continuous projects, we were able to donate over 15 boxes of materials and samples to the event. We had everything from tile and plastic laminate samples that can be used for all kinds of crafts, to carpet samples that can be used as small rugs in classrooms. In total, there were so many materials donated to the Zero Landfill event that we were worried that we would not have enough room to set everything up!

This year, the event was split into two Saturdays, with the first having an emphasis on materials for teachers and artists, and the second geared for the use of the general public. The idea behind this was to give the teachers and artists first priority to find some great items that could be used in their classrooms or art studios. Many of these samples are hard to find elsewhere and can make for some amazing projects.


This year’s event was also especially important in the Greater Houston area because of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating impact. Many area schools were flooded, which means some teachers not only lost everything in their homes, but their classrooms as well. The Zero Landfill event was an incredible way for those who are still rebuilding to retrieve great materials that could be used for their homes. Being able to provide these individuals with materials they can either reuse or repurpose really made all the hard work worth it!

The dream of an earth with no landfills is a long way off. We have a lot of work to do, but the Zero Landfill event is one way to reduce the earth’s landfills, and support your local community.