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Reuse is exactly as it says: reuse products that have not outlived their life cycle. Going along with the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” reuse is the second most important method of reducing our waste stream. It is as simple as donating your unwanted useable “trash” to a charity or thrift store, sharing tools with a neighbor and finding another use for that plastic grocery sack. But it also means shopping at second hand stores (which often in turn benefits your local community), buying from pawn shops, renting seldom used tools or equipment, mending or repairing clothing or household items, and stops only at the boundaries of your imagination.
Source Reduction and Reuse Facts
There are more than 6,000 reuse centers around the country, ranging from specialized programs for building materials or unneeded materials in schools to local programs such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, according to the Reuse Development Organization.
Between 2 and 5 percent of the waste stream is potentially reusable according to local studies in Berkeley, California, and Leverett, Massachusetts.
Source Reduction and Reuse Benefits
Saves natural resources. Waste is not just created when consumers throw items away. Throughout the life cycle of a product—from extraction of raw materials to transportation to processing and manufacturing facilities to manufacture and use—waste is generated. Reusing items or making them with less material decreases waste dramatically. Ultimately, less materials will need to be recycled or sent to landfills or waste combustion facilities.
Reduces toxicity of waste. Selecting nonhazardous or less hazardous items is another important component of source reduction. Using less hazardous alternatives for certain items (e.g., cleaning products and pesticides), sharing products that contain hazardous chemicals instead of throwing out leftovers, reading label directions carefully, and using the smallest amount necessary are ways to reduce waste toxicity.
Reduces costs. The benefits of preventing waste go beyond reducing reliance on other forms of waste disposal. Preventing waste also can mean economic savings for communities, businesses, schools, and individual consumers. (source epa.gov)