The next generation of housing could be built from the materials we have already harvested. Over the centuries there have been many names for Salvage Miners and Salvage Builders. Both occupations require more creativity and thought than building with modern methods and new materials. These days Salvage Builders are creating sustainable housing, which after a century of technology, turns out to be pretty simple if we keep it to a reasonable scale and reuse what we already have on hand. I am thankful that all the potential salvage resources are not gone or too expensive at this time. Because of its obscurity, salvage is one of the smartest ways to build quality inexpensive homes and have something that can easily last for a lifetime when completed.

This movement could create new careers in Salvage Mining, Salvage Hunting, and Salvage Building that will be financed with materials that are presently valued at nearly nothing. This is possible because of the incredible natural resources that are hidden before our eyes and ignored every day. No other country in the world has so much being thrown away with so much life left in it that can never be replicated. Barn wood retails for $5+ per square foot, wood flooring for $6 or more, and it can be had nearly for free. There is a more than a trillion dollars in materials just waiting to be re-harvested. Salvage mining means training people to pull that value out and pass it along to the Salvage Builders. Ideally, they too will take the extra time and labor to build something we can again be truly proud of when completed. These Salvage pioneers in the beginning will be proof that we can work together to make something that most could not do alone, and rebuild the communities that need it with materials that deserve to be saved as well. This concept is not designed to just salvage materials, it brings a form of salvation for those who are hungry for work, for a way to make more by doing more, not just an hourly wage, and provides alternatives that few other opportunities can.

Storing the treasured wood and building materials is a challenge but possible because we have vast warehouse spaces available where they are needed most due to the decline of industry in our country. The vacated buildings from industries shipped over seas provide a cheap way to store 2 generations of materials intended for the future of our children. They will never see trees like the ones we cut more than a century ago from east to west. One of the best examples is the incredible Long Leaf Pine tree, the 300+ year old giants of the South are long gone. The last of the second growth of Loblolly forests have nearly been cut down too. Some of the Long Leaf Pine beams I have salvaged were 52’ long with hardly a knot in the whole length of the beam. I can barely imagine the tree it came from that stood more than a hundred thirty feet tall before they chopped it down. The boards that came from these ancient gigantic trees are trapped in houses from Texas to the North and east, waiting to be freed.

Likewise there are millions of bricks, tons of metals, and millions of other parts and pieces that it took to build a nation unequalled on Earth. That wealth of resources is still all around us, disguised as dilapidated worthless buildings, houses, and barns. Most other nations will never even have what we are poised to throw away, and if they did, they would build a nation like ours out of it, not throw it away. Why trash the opportunity and resources we need to rebuild our own nation in a time of need without trashing more of the environment to fuel our recovery?

The resources required to recreate the antique hardware and old wavy glass will continue to be too expensive to ever be able to match the quality of the past for many reasons. These include higher costs for labor, resources, operations, income taxes, and insurance that did not exist in the US before the 1890’s. World War I drove up the demands on resources and World War II further drained the iron, lead, copper, brass, and many other resources out of our country. We no longer have an incredible amount of manufacturing and industry in this country but there are vast reserves of materials stored in the houses, factories, and buildings left over from that industrial age. Several major cities hold thousands of houses that are being demolished annually and hauled off to the dump because the population has shifted away and there is no need for the outdated, inefficient, and dilapidated housing that has been abandoned and left behind. While much of it is beyond reasonable repair, it is very salvageable and should be used to create employment opportunities, not trash.

There is vast devastation in our country from the extraction practices we have used to tap the once seemingly infinite resources. Entire mountains are gone to get coal and the valleys are filled with disaster. Why not look toward using the resources already harvested that led to this destruction rather than perpetuating the problems by demanding more of the same resources and continuing the cycle until we have thrown it all away. Just be because we do not see the same destruction that was done here going in the rest of the world that is being stripped does not mean we are not paying a heavy price for continued expansion. We must conserve, downsize, contract, and take responsibility for ourselves if we are to survive as a species on this planet or we will destroy it.