Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. These words have become a very powerful part of our efforts towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Of the three, we have certainly made the strongest strides with Recycling. Where we have the greatest opportunity with impacting our eco friendly activity even further, is with Reuse. Reuse is often confused with recycling, and the words are often used interchangeably. When we Reuse something, we are lengthening the life of an item. When we Recycle something, we reprocess an item into a new raw material for use in creating a new product.
The great news about the success of the Recycling movement is that less and less material is showing up in our landfills. If there’s a concern about recycling, it’s that recycling still allows us to be heavily engaged as consumers. Recycling tends to still support (or at least doesn’t completely discourage) our “throwaway society” mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I am in full support of Recycling, and we are seeing some amazing success as more and more people get involved. We can, however, make even greater strides with our cleanup efforts by practicing more the art of Reuse. People from my parent’s generation – the Depression era – generally speaking, tend to be much more inclined towards Reuse. Unfortunately, my generation – the Baby Boomers – have been incredibly well trained by advertising to believe that new is better, and therefore, we have become pretty serious about consumerism. We buy stuff!
A good example of the difference Reuse can make is with computers. Most companies who make and sell computers offer refurbished models at a lower price. Buying a refurbished computer instead of a new one will save 139 pounds of waste, 7,300 gallons of water, and 2,300 kilowatt hours of energy required to manufacture a new one. There are so many examples of the benefits of Reuse, but rather than write about them, I will follow the conventional wisdom that “pictures speak louder than words”. Enjoy these images, showing just a few of the many innovative, creative, fun, and thoughtful ways we can Reuse.
A chandelier made from book pages
A shed made from pallets
Flooring made from leather belts
A swing made from a tire