If I could get across one message about sustainability it would be REDUCE what we consume. However, in the US, this might be like saying “Breathe less.” Maybe we would be more open to reusing, the second of the 3 Rs. I’ve had this idea to have a ReUse day for quite a few years. There is no national ReUse Day like there is America Recycles Day (and there certainly is no Reduce Day either). I think we should start one! The Cosand Green Team also liked the idea and we made it into an Exchange. Now, to give credit to the Meramec Green Team, they also liked my ReUse idea, and during RecycleMania, their student government officers collected clothing (for months) and then had a big clothing exchange. Like our Cosand event, everything was FREE.
I want to share a few observations. At Meramec, the student volunteers running the exchange got into the spirit of the “raw” materials on the tables. They found wonderful combinations of clothing and put outfits together and did impromptu fashion shows to inspire onlooking students who weren’t sure this was “cool” enough to pick any items. Intriqued by the volunteer’s fun, more passerby, on-the-fringe observers decided this might be fun. Like with the Cosand event, very little was left to take to charity, and NONE of it went to the landfill!
Cosand employees are also playful. Not into the “cool” pressure, they browsed for items that inspired usefulness. After all, most of us already have too much stuff. I brought items to clear out my house, not add more! Our event included household items like popcorn bowls, frames, office supplies, books, DVDs and clothing. I brought in some of my tie dye projects. Two colleagues seemed delighted to pick up a duvet coverlet and a silk shirt that I dyed. The funniest contribution was a knight’s armor. The delight by the person who adopted it was a joy for me! It seemed everyone found their “little something.”
In these tight times, sharing what one no longer wants or needs is a social kindness. And, bottom line, by finding a treasure at this event means participants didn’t go out and buy the item. ReUsing is Reducing!
The fun was contagious, and people who came late asked “when is the next exchange?” I believe ReUsing allows for sharing (and conserving). It is my hope that ReUsing inspires saving (not tossing), and will help us rethink our relationship to STUFF both at home and at work.