The Green Project is reusing and recycling New Orleans building materials as supplies for historic architecture and more in the Crescent City. Established in 1994, the nonprofit finds old building materials and paints in landfills and makes them ready for reuse. Through the Salvage Store, its retail venture, the Green Project removes as much as 2 million pounds of material from landfills annually.
Photo Courtesy The Green Project
The organization’s overall mission is to cultivate a culture of reuse and to reduce waste around the New Orleans area, with an eye toward reusing unique and important historical pieces from the city’s past. Found items are sold between 30 and 50% of retail value, priced to make the things more accessible to all.
The Salvage Store is 100% donation-based, relying on contributions from homeowners, contractors, building suppliers, and renovators who have architectural pieces — doors, window frames, and wood to paint. For many New Orleanians, it’s the first stop when renovating their home or business.
“Customers will tell me that one of the things they value most about the Green Project is digging for their materials,” Jordan Battiste, former Salvage Store manager, told Fox 8.
In some cases, customers are artists who use the materials in new creations.
Photo Courtesy The Green Project
“I love wood so much better than canvas,” Crystal Obeidzinski, customer and artist, said to Fox 8. “You look at these doors, this city — we just turned 300. Some of these doors used to be a hundred years old.”
“I don’t know what happened before that, so each one is different and tells a different story,” she continued. “So when you get it, you’re adding to its story instead of starting from scratch.”
The Green Project’s Paint Recycling Program is particularly unique in that it recycles water-based paints rescued from area landfills and mixes them together to create vibrant new colors.
It is, in fact, the nonprofit says it is the only such program along the Gulf Coast.
The program often focuses on areas with particular needs, like a 2018 partnership with the City of New Orleans Department of Sanitation to gather usable paint at the Orleans Parish Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. That day, more than 1,000 gallons were collected and turned into new colors to be used for school and city organization projects. The Green Project has also held “free paint” days where the community can pick up gallons of recycled paint for no charge.
Photo Courtesy the Green Project
Every year, the Green Project says it prevents 40,000 gallons of paint from being dumped down the drain while educating more than 700 local students and residents via an environmental education program called the Math, English Language Artists, Social Studies and Science Lab (M.E.S.S. Lab). It, alongside a Student-Led Recycling Initiative, teaches students about the importance of reusing waste. The free programs are available to kindergarten through 12th-grade students.
By cultivating a culture of creative reuse, The Green Project is celebrating New Orleans’ colorful and architecturally significant past by bringing once-discarded building materials back to life. Its paint recycling program helps keep the area’s fragile ecosystems healthy. It’s a meaningful way to honor the city and create a more sustainable, healthy environment for its residents.