June 9 marked the beginning of Portland/Multnomah County’s second annual ReUse Week celebrating the ReUse organizations in our city. It is organized by ReUse PDX; a coalition of nonprofit reuse organizations here in Portland.
Yesterday, we met with the Portland City Council, which officially proclaimed its support for reuse over the next year. Officials welcomed representatives from our ReStore, the ReBuilding Center, the Community Warehouse, SCRAP, Schoolhouse Supplies and Free Geek to thank us for our work and let us speak about our organizations. Today, we meet with the Multnomah County Council for a similar event and proclamation.
It is wonderful to feel the support and receive recognition for our work in the area of reuse. But we are not about to leave it there. A big part of why these organizations have come together is that we are convinced we can do more to advocate for reuse by working together. For years we have each worked in our own niches in the reuse world. Now, by coming together to support each other, co-market and advocate for a culture of reuse within our community, we all feel we can make even more of a difference.
The terms reuse and recycling are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same things. Reuse is about finding a new use, or next life, for a product or material without changing it through a remanufacturing process. Sometimes it’s the same end use, sometimes it’s amazingly creative. Recycling is about taking a product and reducing it to components that can be used to manufacture other materials. The big difference here is that it takes additional energy and resources to recycle a product, and none to very little to reuse it.
EPA studies show that a community benefits from the creation of more jobs from reuse than from recycling. Our local organizations are proof that reuse is a viable and sustainable way to support the community through providing either materials or financial support to programs.
Our community is a leader in recycling nationwide. We here at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore believe it is time for this community to also become a leader in reuse. Through partnering with the wonderful organizations involved in ReUse PDX, the city of Portland and Multnomah County, we can encourage and promote reuse and lead the way in cultivating a culture of reuse within our community. Please join us. Come visit our stores, donate to our causes, and “Choose to ReUse.”