At the Loading Dock, ‘You Can Build a House with What Others Throw Away’
When local homeowner Royce Faddis needed to replace a front door in her 1940s-era home, she didn’t head to the nearest big-box home improvement store. She drove down to the Loading Dock in southeast Baltimore, a nonprofit building materials reuse center, where the motto is: “You can build a house with what other people throw away.”
Royce was motivated by reasons aesthetic, financial and environmental—and her visit didn’t disappoint.
“I found a beautiful glass door for $25 that fit perfectly and transformed our first floor,” she says. “And I slept better knowing that meant one less door that would end up in the dump.”
Indeed, since its inception in 1984, the Loading Dock, Inc. has diverted more than 18,000 truckloads of materials—including lumber, bricks, doors, plumbing, lighting, paint and cabinetry—from area landfills while improving housing conditions in downtown Baltimore and providing affordable options to DIY homeowners around the area.
Details: TLD annually diverts 4,489 doors from the landfill (end-to-end, these would stretch taller than 25 Empire State Buildings)
“Since its inception in 1984, the Loading Dock, Inc. has diverted more than 18,000 truckloads of materials from area landfills.”
The nonprofit Loading Dock is completely self-sustaining and has become a national model.
“We’ve gotten hundreds of requests from around the country and around the world for technical assistance in setting up similar programs,” notes Executive Director Leslie Kirkland.
In response, she and her team produced a how-to manual and frequently give tours of their 42,000-square-foot warehouse.
For an annual membership fee of just $10 for two, members can peruse the ever-changing inventory of both new and used materials, and spend roughly one-third of what they’d pay at a retail outlet since prices cover just the cost of handling. Not surprisingly, TLD is popular among artists and historic restoration buffs, landlords and contractors, in addition to homeowners hoping to make upgrades or repairs without breaking their budget.
True to its founding mission, TLD is also making a difference in Baltimore’s underserved communities by providing materials for affordable housing—efforts that earned the nonprofit a prestigious national excellence award from United Nations Habitat II (“Building Communities of Opportunity”) and a Presidential Award for Sustainable Development.
Leslie has seen firsthand the difference the Loading Dock, Inc. has made in the lives of some local residents. She recalls a recent case in which a donated pool chairlift (which would cost several thousand dollars new) was bought from TLD and installed in the home of a person with mobility needs for under $300.
“Once it was in place, this resident was able to get upstairs and take their first bath in two years,” Leslie says.
Details: TLD materials assists in the rehab of nearly 15,000 homes annually.
Donors to TLD save dumping and storage fees and gain a tax deduction. To schedule a pickup, call 410.558.3625 or visit LoadingDock.org.
Even after Royce Faddis retired and moved with her husband to Hagerstown, the lure of the Loading Dock, Inc. remained strong.
“I was trying to re-hang a 1960s pendant lamp that came with our new home, and I broke it. I remember thinking, ‘I’ve broken history! I’ll never replace this,’” Royce says.
She made the two-hour drive back to Baltimore to the Loading Dock and to her delight, she found a stainless-steel lamp that matched the original.
“I was overjoyed,” she says.
Throughout the year, the Loading Dock, Inc. hosts DIY workshops on topics ranging from drywall repair to installing reclaimed hardwood floors. In January, TLD partnered with B. Willow, an indoor plant and terrarium shop in Remington, for a workshop in which participants turned repurposed glass light covers into beautiful succulent planters to take home.
“Those light covers otherwise would have ended up in the landfill!” says Communications Director Colline Emmanuelle.
Details: TLD annually saves 42 miles of lumber.
What They Accept
Item 1: Flooring
• ceramic tile
• new carpet
Item 2: Plumbing
Item 3: Roofing
• rolled roofing