IMPORTANT UPDATE about the plants at Community Forklift


*********PLEASE spread the word, post to listserves, etc *********** 


Dear friends at nonprofits, schools, & community gardens  –

Did you see our post about the free and low-cost landscaping items arriving this week at Community Forklift?  Well, unfortunately, we have some bad news: 

It has become clear that we will be receiving far fewer items than expected, due to the nature of the breakdown of the Solar Decathalon event (The Department of Energy and student teams were supportive and tried their best, but all of the material had to be disposed of at lightning speed before the houses were hoisted onto flatbeds. This was the first year they attempted to donate leftovers, so it was a learning experience for all, but we are hopeful that reuse will be better integrated into the next Decathalon in 2013).

In addition, I was naive:   We had assumed we could give these out to anyone who showed up…but I did not anticipate how widely and quickly word would spread.  In just the first few hours, we actually heard from *hundreds* of nonprofits and schools from all over the region – and that’s just the folks who contacted us! 

Therefore, we had to make a tough call: 

At this point, we are not going to be able to donate materials to any nonprofits that have not already received a confirmation notice from us. We are SO incredibly sorry about that!!!  (We’d love to give everything away, but as a local nonprofit ourselves, we need to sell enough plants to cover costs for the extra labor and the trucks we rented to pick it all up).

If you have not already done so, you may still email your nonprofit mission and 501c3 number to Ruthie(at), and you will be placed on a wait list in the order your information is received. If some of the first groups do not pick up their items quickly, or if there is anything left after we make enough to cover our costs, we will start calling groups on the wait list. 

If, however, you don’t want to take your chances on the wait list, we’ll still have the low-cost plants & materials available for sale at our thrift store starting Wednesday at 10 am and continuing while supplies last. We will not be able to announce the prices until we know what items we have, but they will probably be 40% – 60% less than retail price. 

You can check our blog late Tuesday night for more information about what kinds of plants we get, and what the prices will be:

Lastly, we do make periodic donations of other types of building materials to nonprofits throughout the year, so do not hesitate to ask us for help in the future!

Again, I really apologize for getting your hopes up, and thank you so much for your understanding in this difficult situation.


ABOUT COMMUNITY FORKLIFT: We are a nonprofit thrift store for home improvement & architectural salvage, located 5 min. outside the NE DC line (for directions & hours, call 301-985-5180 or visit

Instead of donating clothing or couches, folks donate renovation leftovers like cabinets, doors, lights, and lumber. The building materials are then made available to the public at very low prices (40% to 90% below big-box stores), and donated to local nonprofits. To improve our financial stability, we have also brought in consignment partners to offer higher-end products: unusual antiques & primitives, raw-edge hardwoods, & reconditioned appliances. We are owned & operated by local 501c3 nonprofit Sustainable Community Initiatives, so donations are tax-deductible.

Since opening in 2005, Community Forklift has made it possible for thousands of DC-area homeowners and nonprofits to repair substandard housing. Not only have 18 green jobs been created at the store, but hundreds of local contractors have been able to keep their estimates low, allowing them to attract clients and keep working despite the tough economy. Reuse of materials also means that fewer materials go into the landfill, which reduces the burden on local governments; and that less energy is used to extract, manufacture, and transport new materials