By Amanda Harvey
Stardust Building Supplies has grown from humble beginnings since its inception two decades ago. For thousands of locals, Stardust’s three Valley home improvement thrift stores are an affordable resource for their home remodels and fun DIY projects. Countless others have used Stardust’s free deconstruction services during their own remodels or have donated items to their stores.
Founded by local philanthropist Jerry Bisgrove in 1997, Stardust’s impact on the Phoenix Metropolitan area has been astronomical. In 20 years they have diverted nearly 80 million pounds of usable building materials from the landfill, served over one million customers, and through their Gifts In Kind program have provided nearly $21 million of household items to hundreds of nonprofit organizations.
“There is great power in reuse to improve our neighborhoods and our community, and I’m proud to lead an organization that has had such a tremendous impact on metro Phoenix over the past 20 years,” said Karen Jayne, CEO of Stardust Building Supplies.
In the beginning, Bisgrove worked with a local businessman named Tom Fraker who had previous experience on Wall Street. The two hashed out business details on the back of a napkin in a Phoenix restaurant in the late 90s. “It was based on the premise that Arizona has one of the lowest landfill costs in the country,” Fraker explained. “People would literally tear something down, put it at the curb, or haul it out in a truck to the landfill. There was no thought about doing that because the cost of putting that stuff into the landfill was small.” Fraker and Bisgrove’s goal was to create a way for items that were not being used to be recycled into homes where they would be used, thereby keeping them out of the landfill.
To celebrate this growing list of achievements, Stardust will host Salvage This! on Friday, April 28, at their Mesa warehouse. Guests will enjoy beer and wine tastings, appetizers, hands-on upcycling projects and a silent auction. Guests will also receive a commemorative book with favorite DIY projects and Stardust’s reuse impact over the years.
“For every person who knows about us, there’s a person that’s never heard of us. Salvage This! provides another opportunity for us to educate the public about what we do, the resources we provide, the benefit we have on the community, and the impact we’re making,” said Jayne. “It’s also a lot of fun – bring a friend, grab a drink, explore the reuse warehouse and create!” Jerry Bisgrove will also be honored for his dedication to the organization’s mission and is “looking forward to announcing the establishment of an endowment that will help ensure the stability of Stardust Building Supplies and the legacy created by my wife, Debi, and I 20 years ago,” he said.
There is still a very big need for this type of outlet to keep reusable building materials out of the landfill. According to the EPA, in 2014, 534 million tons of construction and demolition debris were generated in the U.S., more than twice the amount of generated municipal waste. Demolition also represents more than 90 percent of the total debris generation, while construction represents less than 10.
Through their free deconstruction service and by providing customers with affordable used building supplies, Stardust is keeping these usable items out of the landfill. Jayne also has plans to work with Arizona’s cities and large demolition projects to make an even bigger impact in the coming years. “I would like to see Stardust become the convener for reuse in our community,” she said. “We need to strengthen relationships now so when city, state and county municipalities start to think about large-scale projects we can be at the table as a partner helping to reduce project costs, and ultimately reducing the cost to the taxpayer by putting reusable material to good use,” she continued.
1997: Stardust Building Supplies is incorporated as a nonprofit reuse organization.
1998: First Stardust Building Supplies warehouse opens south of Indian School on 28th Ave.
2001: Stardust receives Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant and begins deconstruction services.
2009: Stardust receives Nina Mason Pulliam grant to add third reuse center.
2012: Stardust begins Gifts In Kind program in partnership with Valley of the Sun United Way.
2013: Stardust receives the Environmental Achievement Award from the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region in recognition of its commitment to zero waste and reuse.
2015: Gifts In Kind program distributes $4.7 million worth of goods to 120,000 individuals served by 275 nonprofit organizations.
2017: Celebrate 20th anniversary and hit milestone of nearly 80 million pounds of usable building materials saved from the landfill.
For more on Stardust Building Supplies and to attend the Salvage This! event on April 28, visit stardustbuilding.org.
Main photo by Vince Alfaro.