What is ReUSE?
Reuse is nothing new. Reuse is extending the life of a product that is already available -- by
- using it more than once with little to no processing (same or new function),
- repairing it so it can be used longer,
- sharing/renting it,
- buying it secondhand or
- selling or donating it to another party.
Reuse is as little as sewing on a button or reusing a plastic bag as a trash bag. It’s as big as remodeling an old warehouse into an efficient new restaurant. Reuse is as creative as a commercial interior finished with bowling alley wood. It’s as mundane as taking your reusable travel mug to the coffee shop.
Reuse is what you’re already doing. But how can we do more?
Reuse is a big tent!
Some people only think of reuse as donating something that they would’ve otherwise thrown away. But reuse is much much more.
Who reuses? Do-it-yourselfers, collectors, money-savers, hipsters, simplifiers, bargain-hunters, decorators, farmers, everyone!
Can big business reuse? Absolutely.
Creative, progressive businesses looking to save money and participate in the circular economy are discovering the benefits of reuse. How? Repairing and reupholstering office furniture, using unique reclaimed architectural materials in their buildings, and using reusable foodware in their cafeterias, just for starters.
The world of reuse
- Conventional reuse: using an item again, as-is, for its original function
- Creative reuse (a.k.a. upcycling, repurposing): creative alteration to bring new function to an old item (e.g. furniture made of old sign posts, jewelry made of scrap materials)
- Reclamation (a.k.a. salvage): minimally processing old items to turn them into furniture or home décor (e.g. turning an old log into a table)
- Adaptive reuse: refurbishing an old building for a new purpose (e.g. a defunct hotel is turned into a housing complex or an empty big box store is turned into a community center)
- Rental (a.k.a. sharing, collaborative consumption): sharing or renting items amongst a group of users, instead of individually purchasing those items (e.g. HourCar)
- Repair (a.k.a. refurbishment, remanufacture): reconditioning an item so that it can be used for its original function (e.g. reupholstering furniture or repairing shoes)
- Reusable: an item manufactured to be used over and over again. Reusable items can replace disposable (single-use) items (e.g. stainless steel canteens instead of single-use plastic water bottles)
What kind of organizations are in the reuse, rental, and repair sector?
• clothing consignment • preowned vehicles or furniture • shoe repair • thrift stores • antiques • industrial reuse • libraries • tailors/seamstresses • used sporting equipment •
reusable boxes, bags, or bottles • second-hand books • party rentals • furniture repair • electronics repair and refurbishment • tool rental • deconstruction and salvage
• the list goes on and on
How is reuse different from recycling?
Reuse is the second of the three R’s in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – so reuse is even better than recycling in helping reduce our ecological footprint.
Reuse is extending the useful life of whole items and keeps them out of the waste stream entirely. Making unique light fixtures from colorful bottles and jars is reuse.
Recycling is breaking down items into raw materials and re-processing and remanufacturing the materials into new items. Melting bottles and jars to use in making fiberglass is recycling.
Recycling is good: Recycling a single-use plastic water bottle instead of throwing it away reduces greenhouse gas impact by about 20%.
Reuse is way better: Using a reusable bottle and tap water reduces the impact by a whopping 90+%.