Fort McCoy Reuse-It Store friend to budget, environment
April 10, 2013
FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- Organizations at Fort McCoy that are in need of certain items have an option that helps save money and is good for the installation's waste-management efforts.
The Reuse-It Store offers free items to military, civilian, and contractor organizations on post, said David Schafer, an Environmental Protection assistant with the Directorate of Public Works (DPW). Items must be used at Fort McCoy for official, not personal, purposes, he said.
The store's inventory is provided by organizations on post that have extra or unwanted materials that still can be used. Donated items must have been purchased with government funds; personal items cannot be accepted, Schafer said.
Products available mainly are those that fall in the hazardous-material category, Schafer said. Some of the more-common items include paint, batteries of various sizes, cleaning supplies, and insect repellents. Although not considered hazardous, the store also carries printer cartridges.
Mike Miller, chief of the Water and Wastewater Branch for the DPW, said the Reuse-It Store is a lot like a Goodwill Industries International, Inc., store.
"Someone is cleaning out their closet, comes across a purple paisley shirt, and donates it to Goodwill®. A little while later someone finds it and says 'oh a purple paisley shirt' and buys it," he said.
Miller said the store began operating in the mid-1990s when the installation was running a 90-day hazardous-waste storage facility. Installation activities would bring in old, used, hazardous materials and they would be packaged for proper hazardous-waste disposal.
"We started to notice that some of the materials coming in were brand new. The customer bringing it in just did not have a need for it and knew they could not throw it in the garbage," Miller said. "Instead of packaging it as waste, we started calling other installation activities that we knew used the same materials."
After a few months of doing this, customers started asking what was available for give away.
"We got a few shelves and started stocking them with materials. Through word of mouth, the program unofficially took off."
About a year later the Reuse-It Store officially was created.
With the budget cuts the government is facing, the Reuse-It Store can be a great option for some organizations, Schafer said.
"A box of insect repellent costs $109, but units can come here and get it for free," he said.
Last year the store issued 5,549 items, he said.
In fiscal year 2012, the Reuse-It Store avoided more than $100,000 in procurement and disposal costs, said Mandy Radloff, Environmental Division Compliance Branch manager.
"This is only possible if the installation brings us their unwanted products for others to use."
Judy Standifer, a database manager for DPW, says she uses the Reuse-It Store about four times each year to obtain printer cartridges or other items like canned air.
The cost savings is a big benefit, Standifer said. Depending on the type of printer, cartridges can cost from $20 to $300.
In fiscal year 2012 the store saved DPW more than $4,000, she said.The Reuse-It Store also contributes to the installation's overall waste-management goals by preventing useable items from becoming a waste, Miller said.
Radloff said waste doesn't just disappear when the garbage truck takes it away. Additional resources -- electricity, land, petroleum products -- are used to bury or recycle the waste.
"It is only prudent to make sure the product is used to the greatest extent possible before we toss it. The Reuse-It store helps make that happen," she said.
As Earth Day approaches April 22, Miller encourages people to visit the Reuse-it Store and find out what is available for free issue.
The process to donate or pick up items is simple, Schafer said. Personnel can visit the store in building 207 on Tuesdays or Thursdays between noon and 2 p.m., sign-in, and either drop off or choose the items they would like, Schafer said.
A list of available items is available on the Fort McCoy Corporate Network in the Directorate of Publics Works section. Personnel who do not have access to the Corporate Network can call the Reuse-It Store at 608-388-5915/5705 during operating hours and request a list be sent to them via e-mail.