My grandmother had a saying, “Waste not, want not.” Having lived through the depression, she was no stranger to getting by with the bare minimum. As times changed and life became easier, she found her fastidious ways hard to shake. She was the type of person who could make a pair of socks last a lifetime with a needle and thread, and taught me that with a little creativity and some art supplies, you could make beautiful and functional household items out of other folks’ junk. Although the term “reuse” wasn’t popular for the majority of her life, it turns out that my grandma was an expert at the concept.
The concept of reuse is as simple as it sounds. Instead of throwing an item away, find another use for it. You can reuse an item as small as a button or as large as a building.
In fact, many corporations are choosing deconstruction instead of demolition as a way to divert usable materials from going to the landfill. This also saves businesses money by lessening the need to buy new materials when building or remodeling a structure. On a smaller scale, shopping at thrift stores and finding creative uses for discarded items is a time-honored tradition that has become a popular pastime.
Minnesotans are pretty savvy when it comes to diverting usable items away from the landfill, and this creates much-needed jobs. An MPCA study found that reuse, rental and repair services in Minnesota directly employ about 46,000 people. What’s more, these service-based businesses often include skilled mechanical or electrical repair jobs, making reuse good for your wallet — and the economy.
Resources for those that want to be involved in the growing reuse movement.
- ReUSE Minnesota: A Minnesota based non-profit association raising awareness about reuse, rental, and repair.
- Twin Cities Free Market: An online exchange program for Twin Cities area residents.
- Choose to Reuse Directory: A searchable directory of reuse businesses and nonprofits in and around Hennepin County.
- Freecycle NetworkTM: A non-profit network where people can list items to give away.
- Minnesota Materials Exchange: A free online exchange service for businesses and institutions.
Reuse is a great way to save money while being kind to the environment. So the next time you need something, or need something fixed, think like my grandmother — be smart, be green, get creative, and head to your local vintage, consignment, rental or repair shop!