Reuse – by taking, but not reprocessing, previously used items – helps save time, money, energy and resources. In broader economic terms, it can make quality products available to people and organizations with limited means, while generating jobs and business activity that contribute to the economy.

The practice of working towards reducing our waste output, reusing what we can and then recycling what we can’t has been around for centuries. Many in the pre-Baby Boomer generation remember needing to stockpile certain materials – or avoid using some altogether – in order to save resources for use in World War II. The economic boom in the 1950s did lead to an increase in the amount of trash – and litter – being produced by first world citizens due to the growing popularity of single use items. However, it was not long until people began to realize the environmental impact humans were having on the Earth’s eco-system.

Historically, financial motivation was one of the main drivers of reuse. In the developing world this driver can lead to very high levels of reuse, however rising wages and consequent consumer demand for the convenience of disposable products has made the reuse of low value items such as packaging uneconomic in richer countries, leading to the demise of many reuse programs. Current environmental awareness is gradually changing attitudes and regulations, such as the new packaging regulations, are gradually beginning to reverse the situation.

Wanna help continue this legacy?