Earth Day with ACR: The Difference Between Recycling and Reuse

Earth Day with ACR: The Difference Between Recycling and Reuse


This Earth Day, we want to share the differences between Reuse and Recycling, and why you should always Choose to Reuse! 



We’ve all heard of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. They have become a phrase synonymous with living a green lifestyle, and many families around the world happily implement the most popular R, recycling, into their daily lives. However, folks out there may not understand the importance of the R we’re all about, reuse, and why it’s always the better choice over recycling. Okay, you got us! Ultimately, the most important of the R’s is reduce. Consuming less reduces the energy and materials expended in the disposal or recycling of an object, but that’s a focus for another day!


First, let’s talk about recycling. Recycling refers to the process of turning waste items into new, reusable materials or items. This can be an expensive and difficult process, using large amounts of energy to transport, process, and reassemble recyclable materials. In fact, most of what we recycle isn’t actually turned into usable materials. Sorry if we just burst your recycling bubble!


Photo by EZEQUIEL BECERRA /AFP/Getty Images


Don’t despair, there’s another road those materials can take! Rather than recycle them, find a way to reuse them. Reuse means to find another purpose for an item that would have otherwise been thrown away. Examples of this include the buying and selling of used goods, repairing existing items, or incorporating an item into a piece of art. Using an object as it is, without industrial changes, reduces pollution and waste as well as raw materials used. There are lots of existing organizations that embody reuse at the local level, like your favorite thrift shop, Craigslist, or the Buy Nothing Project


Another local outlet for materials to get a second chance at life are creative reuse centers. While they may not be present in every community (yet!), these reuse centers encourage us to look at things through a creative lens, inspiring us to transform items into something far removed from their original purpose!


An M&M’s bag becomes a purse…to hold all your M&M’s!


Bottle caps can become pinwheel flowers to decorate your garden


Reuse centers are more efficient than recycling, because they require no industrial processing. For the past thirty years, dozens of creative reuse centers have been thriving in the United States and beyond. Some of the larger centers report diverting over 60,000 lbs of useable materials from the landfill each year, while also being economically viable organizations. Many reuse centers are open to the public, creating affordable and accessible opportunities to all. They’re places where tinkerers, makers, crafters, educators, and the general public can go to explore and get inspired. An up-to-date, comprehensive list of creative reuse centers is difficult to find, but if you do a quick internet search, you may find one near you that you never knew existed!


At Austin Creative Reuse, our vision is a community that consciously consumes and chooses reuse as a first choice when evaluating the need for personal or project materials. We believe that through the discovery of the reuse of an object, a person will learn to evaluate use and purchase decisions based on the whole lifecycle of the object. 


Now, that we’ve convinced you that reuse is better than recycling, give the Earth a big hug by choosing to reuse and visit your local reuse center today!


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