Reuse Lessons from Dr. Seuss
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
These are the famous words by Dr. Seuss from the story of the The Lorax. In the event that you’re not familiar with the story, it is about a young man named the Once-ler, who, because of greed and self-righteousness, he pollutes the sky, the river and the landscape by chopping down every last Truffula tree.
The Lorax is the voice for the trees. He tries, to no avail, to educate the Once-ler about the importance of saving the trees and the environment.
The Lorax was Dr. Seuss' personal favorite of his books. "The Lorax," he once explained, "came out of me being angry. In The Lorax, I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might.” Dr. Seuss was able to create a story about economic and environmental issues without making it dull or boring, which was not an easy task.
Do you know what year The Lorax was written? Take a Guess! Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in 1971. Over the past 46 years, many of the things which Dr. Seuss was angry about haven’t changed much. Businesses continue to pollute our waterways and landscapes and the focus on corporate profits comes first no matter what the cost.
What can we learn from Dr. Seuss in 2017?
Focus on Reuse
Today, there are businesses and organizations that realize that if we are to save our planet for future generations, we must change current business models and behaviors.
So, what exactly is reuse?
Reuse is the practice of introducing a product or byproduct into a manufacturing process, sometimes without any physical or chemical change.
Reuse contributes to the goal of maintaining a healthy planet in a few critical ways. First, by reusing items we already have, it lessens the need for purchasing new items and keeps materials out of landfills.
Second, it reduces the carbon footprint of energy generation due to the lower demand for new products thus leaving more natural resources intact.
Remember, waste prevention starts with reducing consumption. If we don’t buy it or use it, we can’t throw it away! But, where is “away” anyway?
Reuse Job Growth
In 2011, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency performed a study on the economic activity associated with the reuse industry in Minnesota. What they discovered is that reuse sector employs over 45,000 people with an economic output of over $10 billion. This is big business and has the opportunity to grow exponentially as more and more people and businesses change the business model and change behavior.
Reuse Businesses Making an Impact
When many of us think of reuse, we think of thrift shops such as the Goodwill (and they are definitely a part of it) but today, reuse businesses are oh, so much more.
Take a look at who is embracing the reuse space:
- 1 - ReUSE Minnesota is an organization that is dedicated to changing behavior and promoting the reuse industry in Minnesota. A 501c3 non-profit, ReUSE Minnesota is a membership-based organization that includes businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who are passionate about growing the reuse economy. ReUSE Minnesota has recently created an interactive website that connects reuse businesses with individuals with local, thrifty, and eco-friendly goods and services.
- 2 - Tech Dump and Tech Discounts Minnesota-based companies that refurbish computers, keyboards, mice, and other kinds of electronics and resell them at affordable prices.
- 3 - Better Futures Minnesota is a deconstruction business that engages men who have had a history of incarceration, homelessness, poverty, and untreated mental and physical health challenges to help them achieve self-sufficiency and a better future for themselves and their communities. They carefully deconstruct houses and buildings, carefully removing each wood board, sink, countertop, and fixture which are then sold in their warehouse at remarkable prices.
- 4 - EcoSet is a Certified Sustainable, Women Owned business based in Los Angeles, CA, and is a resource committed to implementing customized, practical, and sustainable solutions for commercial productions and marketing events. They handle single-use materials such as wood flooring or items that were never used like pallets of unopened crayons. How cool would it be to have something with a backstory of being on television?!
- 5 - Repair Lair is located in Minneapolis, MN, and specializes in fixing outdoor clothing and camping gear and is also an authorized repair shop for Patagonia. Being able to repair your clothing is a valuable benefit that they offer in order to help eliminate purchasing needless items. Remember . . . the greenest gear you’ve got is the gear you have.
Relan Wrap Up
Relan takes existing marketing materials like billboards and banners and creates promotional products to tell a company’s sustainability story.
It’s hard to imagine that all of the items from the companies mentioned above were once sent directly to our landfills.
My challenge to you is this: join us in our mission to create a mindful community, to change behavior, and to proactively think about our planet and future generations with every purchase we make.
Because . . .
Start your own reuse movement by taking materials you have and creating new products ones from them. You’d be surprised at what we can make! Send us an email if you are interested in having a conversation on how to get started becoming a more eco-friendly business.
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