Like tides of trash filling oceans and clogging streams, the reuse movement is an equally strong current.
Reuse—simply using products a second time, or in a second way—chips away at mountains of stuff, keeps items out of landfills, and saves money and natural resources.
Just ask Alex Eaves who has made a film promoting the practice of reuse, the subject of this month’s Salem Progressive Film Series.
Eaves is part of a progressive movement fueled with creativity, positivity, and passion to find new uses for stuff routinely wasted and discarded. His film, “REUSE! Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet,” inspires a world of ideas.
The reuse concept has gained momentum in recent years. It has led to the start-up of new businesses and inspired countless visionaries and artists. Advocates say reuse is a way for ordinary people to take a stand against a huge problem, particularly in the United States.
Americans make up just five percent of the world’s population but use 25 percent of its natural resources, according to World Watch, the World Bank, and World Resources Institute.
Even British Petroleum’s annual reports show the U.S. using more oil than other countries. The Environmental Protection Agency warns current practices can’t last.
Eaves is so passionate about reuse, he went to all 48 states in the contiguous United States to find others equally swept up in the cause. Viewers of the film will see those who incorporate reuse into their personal lives and work places or who have created new businesses centered on repurposed materials. They’ll see others who have found ways to reuse vast wastelands of abandoned buildings, for instance.
Reuse is no stranger in Salem, either.
For example, Northwest Hub Director Kirk Seyfert said repair and repurposing are at the heart of his bicycle sale and repair center. His business helps stop bicycles going to the landfill, and also allows bikes to be sold at low prices.
There’s also ReStore, Habitat for Humanity of the Mid-Willamette Valley resale shop. It sells used household items, such as sinks, that would otherwise be thrown out, raising money for the nonprofit.
ReStore Director Chris Ream said the store has kept hundreds of tons of waste from going into the waste stream. Consumers also save buying used items.
“The joy of finding creative uses to materials found at the ReStore is something I witness daily,” Ream said. “Up-cyclers make up a large portion of our customer base.”
Following the film, Ream and Seyfert will help lead an audience discussion. Joining them will be Karen Guillory, sales representative for Eugene-based Hummingbird Wholesale which reuses its glass food container bottles.
In the lobby, groups that promote reuse locally will be on hand, including Marion County Environmental Services, Upcycle Oregon, and Nuvo Glass.
Of the Three R’s of conservation, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, several said that Reuse gets the short end of the stick.
Recycling is a well-known practice to give discarded items new life, but recycling is not enough and it carries environmental issues, said both Eaves and Alan Pennington, Marion County’s waste reduction coordinator.
“Take a plastic water bottle, for example,” Pennington said. “Recycling saves this plastic from the landfill.” However, because the plastic can’t be reused in its original form, it needs to go someplace to be remanufactured.
Recycling requires transportation, electricity, other energy and water to make something useable. In short, recycling uses up more natural resources.
Reuse, in contrast, goes beyond recycling, giving objects new life before they go into either the recycle or the garbage bin.
In the end, the film serves as a light at the end of a tunnel.
“We hope people will come and take away something that changes their habits. If they need to buy something just think first about it,” said Cindy Kimball, Salem Progressive Film Services board member.
Eaves would emphasize that when you do think about it, think about the planet, too.
REUSE! Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet
Salem Progressive Film Series
Guest speakers & audience discussion to follow
Tuesday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m.
Salem’s Historic Grand Theatre
191 High St. NE, Salem