The sky is the limit for local non-profit


NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV)-- Everything old is new again at the Sustainable Warehouse. Rebecca O'Brien is the executive director of the non-profit. She's been in the reuse and recycle business for the last 15 years.

"I just don't like to throw stuff away. We need to appreciate our resources and appreciate our stuff and value it," said O'Brien.

The idea for soft stripping and deconstructing homes and businesses was born out of her desire to relieve the burden of area landfills.

"I was living out at the Isle of Palms at the time and I kept seeing houses being knocked down, knocked down, knocked down and I said this has got to stop. I{} started the non-profit, got certified in deconstruction and started working,"O'Brien said.

And she hasn't stopped. You don't have to look any{}further than to see the material that fills up the 120,000 sq. foot warehouse she sub-leases in North{}Charleston.{}It's a tough way to earn a living but she is following her dream.

"At this point we haven't gotten any grants or donations. We just work. We make our money and barely get paid. We pay our insurance, but eventually we{}will{}apply for A grant to pay for a new warehouse," O'Brien explained.

Instead of throwing out the kitchen sink, O'Brien keeps them. Instead of shuttering windows, she keeps them. Instead of slamming doors into dumpsters, she keeps them. Her inventory includes everything from tables and desks to flooring materials and knick knacks.

"People would be surprised to see the stuff I pull out of dumpsters and sell in five seconds," O'Brien said as she looked over her extensive inventory.

O'Brien sells some of her wares and gives some of it away to those in need in the community.

"We have stuff, people need stuff and people deserve to have better places to live." O'Brien said explaining her desire to give back. "We rehab for elderly occupied homes. We do about five of those a year and do community gardens as well as tend school gardens."

She will deconstruct up to four homes a year and work with area businesses as well including Boeing and Clemson's wind turbine project in North Charleston.

"We physically do deconstruction. We physically take a building down to the ground by hand and we do about five of those a year," O'Brien{}said.

Her effort to clean up the environment is a daily work in progress. She will go wherever is needed to help sustain rough building materials many would just rather toss aside.

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