When it comes to recycling, most people think of putting scrap paper or empty milk jugs into a blue box. But there is so much more that can be done, say two local art furniture makers.
Will Heinrich and Kai Yamanaka, who live in South Surrey, have made everything from birdhouses to carved doors to throne chairs from recycled materials, even using computer boards in a lampshade once.
Recently they've focused mostly on making benches and garden furniture from used fence boards, which are then put for sale online through Craigslist.
But few buy them because they're made from recycled materials, said Yamanaka.
"At this point, they just like the benches," she said.
Heinrich, who has been doing this kind of art for about 30 years, said he works with found wood, stone and iron, for the most part.
"You can make anything out of virtually nothing because all the materials are really all around," he said. "It doesn't take a lot to create something useful."
While not everyone will agree that it's easy to make comfortable, usable art furniture from found materials, certainly no one can argue there is a lot of recyclable stuff that could be put to a good second use.
On that front, Heinrich and Yamanaka can help out, since they offer custom-order pieces or will pick up used wood or other items just to keep them out of the landfill. For most furniture, used fence boards are ideal.
"They're even primed," noted Heinrich. "There are thousands of trees that are cut into fences that are going into the landfill," he said. Most of those boards may only have a small part of rot on one end, and the rest of the wood can be reused.
"Even if you just made a box for toys," he said, that would be better than having it rot in the dump.
"There's room - so much more room - for recycling. They just don't make it easy."
He said when he lived in New Zealand there was a section of the dump set aside for people to leave things others might want.
"You could go in there and pick up a fridge that works or whatever," he said.
And while the couple are big fans of thrift stores and the Delta Spring Clean-up program, they want to see a lot more focus put on the environment, especially in the Lower Mainland where recycling and reusing options are often more limited than in places like the Interior.
They do their best to stick to found materials though, noting even the paint they use comes from Surrey Recycles.
Heinrich and Yamanaka said they are always on the lookout for usable wood, stone and iron that people want to have picked up, and they are happy to talk to people about furniture design and custom orders as well.
For more information, or to see the garden benches and throne chairs they have ready for sale, call 778-980-1949 or email iarrh@ yahoo.ca.