Get inspired by the winners of the 2016 National Reuse Contest!

Every year, Community Forklift joins reuse centers across the country to participate in The ReUse People Of America’s National Reuse Contest. Any member of the public can enter by submitting their project to their local participating reuse store (that’s us!) for a chance to win awesome prizes.  Judges at each reuse center select the most impressive projects, awarding gift cards and bragging rights for first, second, and third place winners in each category. Those local winners are then submitted to the ReUse People to compete at the national level. The national winners in each category receive gift cards redeemable for merchandise at their sponsoring store — $1000, $500 or $250 for first, second and third place, respectively.

The most exciting part of all of this is that Forklift Fans just keep winning!

We’re excited to announce that in 2016, two separate Fans placed nationally: Congratulations to both Kerry and Terence!

1st Place Winner; Arts & Furniture
Tinker’s New Home
Kerry Gantt

The story: “In June, while walking the dogs in the neighborhood, my wife and I found a bird—a little green and yellow parakeet that was on his own.  We caught him, took him home and tried to find his family.  Then we tried to find him a home.  Then, gradually, we realized he was going to stay.  I have never wanted a bird; the idea of captive birds makes me sad.  But he wouldn’t survive long out in the world, and we felt responsible for him.  We grew fond of him.  We named him Tinker.

Through summer and into fall, Tinker lived in a green and white plastic cage borrowed from a neighbor.  As grateful as we were for the loan, we were not fans of the cage.  It filled the living room with its pet-store plainness.  So I started to think about what I might be able to do to give Tinker a warmer, roomier home.  I researched online and found all kinds of grandiose projects, but our house is small so size was the primary constraint.  I finally decided on an audio tower—the right width and depth for the available space, nice and tall.  It took about three weeks of focused searching to find it.  $50 on Craigslist.  A little banged up, but just what I was looking for.”

Utilizing both salvaged and new materials, Kerry gave the cabinet a full makeover, turning it into Tinker’s new home. Her redone cabinet includes a large, open living area for Tinker, two  cabinets (one for his food and supplies and a larger one below for storage),  dark mesh that blends into the wood frame and the room,  a grate floor with a shelf below to hold newspaper, a hinged door in the back through which to clean out that newspaper, a hand-sized door on each side for delivering food and treats and light cleaning, a large door in the back, and a lighted ceiling with a dimmer switch. “It’s bigger than where he was living and it fits into our house in a more aesthetically pleasing way.”

Reused materials: “I found lumber and trim in various dimensions, many feet of shelf standards and some tracking that would be perfect for covering the sharp edges of the wire mesh and supporting the newspaper shelf, a piano hinge that was long enough for all the non-cabinet doors, casters so it would be easier to move, eye bolts, non-slip cork pads and reclaimed tin roof tiles that would make beautiful cabinet door inserts.”

3rd Place Winner; Arts & Furniture
Kitchen Prep Table
Terence Chang

The story: “The project began with our plan to move to an apartment with a small kitchen and limited counter space. Looking for a project and noticing the pricey-ness of store-bought tables, I decided to make my own. I designed the piece to fit snugly next to the fridge in the tiny kitchen [this goal eventually changed when they moved partway through the process]. The hope was to create working space for cooking (hopefully with lighting), add additional storage space, and add some character. This was done in January 2016 during the blizzard. I started by dumpster diving in Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in DC. A 90 year old home under renovation rendered the primary materials for the table. I pulled out old gas pipe, beautiful old dimensional pine lumber, and a few 4×6 pine pieces.”

Adding a number of new materials to his inventory (wood stain, screws, chalkboard paint, LED lights, and hooks), Terence created his own fully functional kitchen prep table. “The overall functionality fits our needs very well. You can see the storage of pots, pans, knives on magnet, hanging fruit hook, radio/mp3, homebrew equipment, scale and plants. It is our prep station, breakfast bar and coffee station. It is the command center for all the time and love we give to each other through food and drink.”

Reused materials: Wood for the table top and upper shelves (the lower shelves were from personal supply), and the gas pipe.


You can see their full stories and all of our past winners on our Reuse Contest page.


Are YOU interested in entering this year’s contest?

If you completed a project in 2017 that utilizes reused building materials, you’re eligible to do so! You find the contest rules on our submission form:

For more info, visit TRP’s official contest site: