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Reducing, Reusing & Recycling on an Island


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On Nantucket, our attempt at reducing, reusing, and recycling reaches beyond the typical waste stream. As the old saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” – and on an island with finite landfill space, limited access, and a growing population, this idea extends to all sorts of things. Whether you are cleaning out your house, renovating or demolishing a structure, or simply at the end of your vacation, consider giving back to the community before sending your items to the landfill. Nantucketers are resourceful, and the various amazing local organizations that exist to allocate everything from old books and clothes to cottages and canned goods are a great example of the type of ‘above and beyond’ recycling that happens on our little island.

Are you planning a big spring cleaning project? Consider donating items to The Hospital Thrift Shop. “The Hospital Thrift Shop sells merchandise donated by island residents and visitors – anything from used books to furniture to artwork and everything in between – from mid-May through mid-October and operates as a separate non-profit organization.” Proceeds benefit Nantucket Cottage Hospital. The Thrift Shop is open seasonally, so check their website for donation days/times before their opening day. Another great year-round option is The Seconds Shop. “The Seconds Shop provides gently-used designer clothing, shoes, art, housewares, furniture, books, media and more, with all proceeds benefiting Fairwinds – Nantucket’s Counseling Center.”

Cleaning out your pantry/kitchen cabinets at the end of your rental season? Consider taking your non-expired, non-perishable food items to The Nantucket Food Pantry, now part of the Nantucket Food, Fuel, and Rental Assistance Program. This organization is open year-round at 10 Washington Street, and accepts donations on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 PM. You may also consider donating to A Safe Place, Inc.A Safe Place, Inc. was founded in 1987 by five members of the Nantucket Women’s Bar Association. Since then, the agency has continued to provide free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault”. They will accept non-perishable food, diapers, cleaning products and other household goods.

Renovating a kitchen? Contact Habitat for Humanity for any gently used appliances. They will “broker” a deal between you and their clients, and you will receive a tax donation receipt. They may also consider furniture which they will sell on local social outlets, with the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity. To recycle kitchen cabinets/bathroom vanities that still have “life” in them, you can list them directly on Nantucket Re-Use Exchange or on our local Facebook Nantucket Consignment Page.

When looking to demolish a dwelling on your property, the costs can be considerable. The most recent quote from the Landfill is $456 per ton, and that is the cost just to “dump” the waste. The company you hire to do the demolition will need to tear down and sort any debris before being dropped to the landfill. The costs can accumulate quickly; I have heard quotes upwards of $60,000 for a small house. Before a demolition permit is issued by the Town, you will need to follow Town By Law Chapter 139 Section 26A(1), which is a demolition delay. The specifics can be found here. The intention is to give the Town and the owner time to consider other alternatives to demolition, minimize the quantity of demolition debris ending up in the Landfill, create an incentive for the reuse of residential structures, and to give interested parties the opportunity to acquire reusable residential structures. An owner will need to put an ad in the local newspaper stating that the structure is available to any interested party subject to the ability to move the structure within 60 days of the advertisement. 

It may be easier for you to contact Housing Nantucket. This non-profit has lists of people waiting for an opportunity for Homeownership, and many already have property to move a structure onto. Most structures are allowed to be moved in the fall, winter and spring. Per Housing Nantucket: “An ideal project is less than two stories tall, located close to a paved road, and small enough that it can be moved over the road in one piece. In the past, Housing Nantucket has cut homes into two or three pieces to move them, but this can create longer-term maintenance issues once the pieces are joined back together in their new locations.” If Housing Nantucket cannot move the structure, advertising in the local newspaper will bring you many people who are ready, willing and able to manage the move, at their sole expense. 


Recycling is Mandatory on Nantucket. Most people are accustomed to the recycling rules for trash here on the island, but just in case, here is the link to the information.

Suppose you don’t have the time and want someone to help you with cleaning/clearing and collecting items. In that case, there are people who run a business out of collecting and selling items and then donating the proceeds to local non-profit organizations. Please ask your Fisher agent for their contact information.