Only in New Orleans: Green Project gives away selected supplies this week

By Annette sisco

Staff writer

At the Green Project, they believe there’s value in the battered doors, dusty glass and short boards that home renovators toss out. Respect for the value of old things is the reason the building supply recycler is in business.

“We’re going to try to price things below retail, but we don’t give things away,” executive director Phyllis Jordan said at her desk off the Green Project’s warehouse floor at Press and Marais streets.

Except this week.

Once a year, the Green Project gives away odds and ends that just aren’t selling.

The freebies are arranged in a fenced area across the street from the warehouse. People are welcome to come and take what they need from the area.

“We get mobbed on the first day,” Jordan said. That’s why this year the staff has deliberately held back some of its best rejects, so to speak, to put out today, Thursday.

In particular, the Green Project has an excess of plumbing fixtures on its hands: toilets, tubs — everything, including the kitchen sink. Lots of kitchen sinks. A selection will be free starting Thursday.

“We have a fair amount of those, and we need to thin out the inventory,” Jordan said.

There are also door thresholds, buckets of adhesive compound for sticking down lineoleum floors and low-pressure sodium lights suitable for casting an unflattering pall over any industrial workplace.

I wandered with Jordan among boxes of mismatched, chipped and cracked tiles that are just waiting for some thrifty or creative person to snap them up. Jordan pointed out that chipped tiles can be used to repair or finish a job, and broken ones are great for mosaic projects.

The Green Project operates a warehouse, lumberyard and a paint recycling center. It offers environmental education classes and sells all kinds of building supplies, fixtures, even furniture.

Free week is not only environmentally responsible, it’s also a savvy business move as people who come to browse the free items detour through the very affordable. “Our sales are normally very good during free week,” Jordan said.

In case you’re wondering, yes, this is the same cheerful, down-to-earth Phyllis Jordan who founded our local chain of coffee shops, PJ’s, in 1978.

After running, growing and franchising the successful business, Jordan retired three years ago. She spent some time serving on boards, but found it hard to make a difference in the elevated realms of the corporate world.

Raised by a contractor father and a Depression-born mother who refused to let anything go to waste, Jordan is happy to have a hands-on job that essentially involves directing dump trucks away from the landfill.

“I hate waste,” she said. “I hate the way in America we throw things away that still have value.”

Free week at the Green Project continues through Saturday. For more information, visit www.thegreenproject.org or call (504) 388-7140.