Environment

A day-long event on Friday will focus on teaching residents and businesses on ways to reuse items that might otherwise go to a landfill.

The “Reuse Summit” is sponsored by the Partnership for a Green City. Director Brent Fryrear said people often hear the mantra “reduce, reuse and recycle,” but the second of those concepts is the least understood.

“We know about recycling,” he said. “People understand recycling. People even understand waste reduction. The one thing that people don’t understand, necessarily, is how reuse works.”

The summit will feature speakers from various businesses who specialize in reusing items — from Goodwill to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore. But the discussion will continue past the reuse of clothes and appliances to topics like compost and biodigesters.

Biodigesters — which take organic waste and convert it to usable methane gas — have been a hot topic in Louisville over the past year. A company proposed building a biodigester next to the Heaven Hill distillery in the California neighborhood, but residents raised concerns about the facility’s proximity to housing and potential odors. The project was cancelled earlier this year, though company STAR BioEnergy said it would seek an alternate site for a similar venture.

Stephen Simmons from Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Gershman, Brickner & Bratton will speak about biodigesters at Friday’s summit. There will also be demonstrations from groups and companies that routinely reuse items in their products.

Fryrear said the goal isn’t to take a position on the technology or the ideal location for digestion facilities but to provide more information and an opportunity for people to ask questions.

“Recycling 30 years ago, people were skeptical about it,” he said. “People are still skeptical somewhat about reuse. But when you present it like this as an opportunity to not just help yourself get rid of something, but help somebody else out at the same time, it really is a win-win situation.”

This event is the second quarterly event the Partnership for a Green City has organized this year; the first was on the urban heat island phenomenon. Fryrear said the partnership will hold a discussion on making food and dining more sustainable next quarter, and toward the end of the year, an event focused on changing lifestyles to create as little waste as possible.

The Reuse Summit is Friday, June 3 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Jefferson Community and Technical College. Registration is $25 and includes lunch, but Fryrear said no one will be turned away for the lack of ability to pay. Sign up here.