Reclaim, reuse, upcycle: UB’s staffer’s eco-friendly philosophy gaining traction


Published October 6, 2017 This content is archived.

“Throwing something out should never be your first option. ”
Jackie Hausler, director of communications and alumni engagement
School of Public Health and Health Professions

“As a society, we throw a lot of things away without giving a second thought.

“But just because something leaves our presence doesn’t mean it’s actually gone … it’s just somewhere else now,” says UB staff member Jackie Hausler.

Furniture is one obvious example, says Hausler, director of communications and alumni engagement in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, and a Buffalo-based lifestyle and DIY blogger.

Since 2013, Hausler has been sharing her favorite ideas, projects and products on her blog, Seeking to inspire creativity in the name of reclaiming, reusing and upcycling, Hausler walks followers through do-it-yourself projects, shows how to give old items a new chance at life and teaches ways to be eco-friendly and live a green lifestyle.  

In addition to her blog, Hausler attracts followers to her social media sites on Instagram (@haus2home), Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. She has been featured in Buffalo Spree magazine, has presented at the Buffalo Home show, has written on home improvement and DIY projects for several Western New York businesses, and is a contributor to the Life + Storage blog.

Jackie Hausler in her garage workshop.

Jackie Hausler in her garage workshop. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki  

“I didn’t graduate from college thinking I was going to be doing all of this,” says Hausler, a native Western New Yorker who was raised in rural Sanborn.

“Attending SUNY Fredonia opened my eyes to different ways of living,” she says. “I was meeting people from all over. And I began thinking more about green lifestyles — for instance, how little things can make a difference for all of us. I started to understand how much of a disposable society we live in.”

Hausler also met her husband, Tom, at Fredonia.

“When we bought our first home and consolidated everything, we didn’t have as much as we initially thought we did to furnish our space,” she recalls. “When we started looking around at home furnishings, we ran into the same situation that many people do: We went to nice furniture stores where things were really well-made and had the prices that go with that.

“We went to the lower-priced stores, but then the reverse was true: We saw many items we could afford, but which were poorly made.

“I had already developed a strong sense of making environmentally conscious choices in my life,” she says. “And I began thinking … this was the perfect opportunity to test out my DIY skills by taking old, solidly built furniture and bringing it back to life.”

Hausler also realized that if she turned out to be good at this, it would be a perfect way to fill their home with newly refinished, well-made tables, chairs, dressers and other items for very little cost.

Jackie Hausler works on a decorative wood-block pattern on a table top she is refinishing. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

“As time went on, I got better at it, and being a communicator, I knew I didn’t want to keep all this knowledge to myself. So I started a blog and decided to share it,” she says. “This allowed me to easily explain how to tackle all sorts of do-it-yourself projects — and be eco-friendly while doing it.”

Hausler also had a greater goal: continuing to raise awareness of the broader issues surrounding making environmentally conscious choices in life.

“When I talk about this, I try to help others think of garbage as being the last possible option. Can you donate it? No. Can you recycle it? No. Can you re-use it? No. When you run down all of those sorts of options and the answer is consistently no, then it very well may be garbage. Sometimes items do reach an end to their lifecycles,” she says.

“However, it’s that throwing something out should never be your first option.”

Hausler believes more people are starting to consider that, but she adds that products have become so cheap to manufacture and produce that “it’s become part of our culture to let it all go. We just do it because it’s easy to toss something out and buy a new one.

“However, the more we consume, it fuels the demand and the cycle of production, using energy to produce and ship, a process that puts a great strain on our natural resources and environment.

“And to be honest, because we live in such a disposable society, sometimes it makes it more difficult to make the right decision. It’s not always convenient to be able to recycle or to compost, but the extra effort is worth it.”

Hausler says she is always glad to talk about these issues and is encouraged by the increasing outreach from people reading her blog or following her on social media. “I receive emails or people will call me and say, ‘I spotted this item out on the curb, I want to re-purpose it. Do you have any tips?’ Or, ‘I can’t keep this ... where is the right place to take it?’”

Photos: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

Hausler’s approach is successful in informing and educating family, friends, neighbors and people within her own community. 

“I’ve asked, ‘Is it OK if I take this?’ or, ‘Can you hold off and I’ll take it somewhere I know it can be fixed up for someone?’

“I have received some good responses doing that,” she says. “One neighbor had set out a wooden chest with a marble top … a nice solid piece of furniture, which, with a little refinishing, I thought would be very attractive. When I asked if I could take it, she said, ‘OK, sure.’ So I did the refinishing and my mom has it in her house. It’s really beautiful.”

For Hausler, raising awareness also includes supporting organizations that fit in with her philosophies. This is the third year she’s been involved with Habitat Buffalo’s DIY Find & Flip fundraiser in which local DIYers donate their time to create pieces of furniture that are auctioned off to benefit Habitat Buffalo.

“I couldn’t think of a more perfect marriage of what I do and what Habitat Buffalo stands for,” she says.

In addition, this event promotes purchases at Buffalo ReStore, which will also raise money for Habitat. “It is bringing in the eco-friendly element as well,” Hausler says.

“We raised over $15,000 at last year’s event, so we are hoping for another great turnout this year.”

For more information about the fundraiser, visit Habitat Buffalo’s website.