What is Reuse?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) defines reuse as the recovery or reapplication of a package, used product, or material in a manner that retains its original form or identity. Reuse is one of the three “R’s” of Solid Waste Reduction (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle). Reuse of materials is a key action in meeting the Aloha+ Challenge Solid Waste Reduction goal.
The primary target for this goal comes from the annual tons of solid waste diverted per calendar year (Department of Environmental Services). Most reuse happens in the private sector including businesses, non-profit organizations, church groups, and through community events.
The EPA indicated that the most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making new products requires materials and energy - raw materials must be extracted from the earth, the product must be fabricated, then transported to its selling location. Therefore, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways to preserve natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.
One of the best ways to reduce waste is to "Reuse" - buying gently used items, repairing rather than buying new, donating to charities and community groups, and/or re-selling items. These actions prevent solid waste from entering landfills, and allow communities to flourish and make our islands a better place to live. By taking useful products discarded by those who no longer want them and providing them to those who do helps more residents on our islands. In many cases, Reuse supports local community and social programs while providing donors with tax benefits and reduced disposal fees. Replacing single-use items with reusable goods whenever possible is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again.
Reuse in Hawaiʻi
Hawaiʻi has many organizations involved in Reuse including Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and many more. Cooperative agreements with large retailers like Target Stores or Home Depot provide a “second life” to many products that would otherwise end up in our landfills.
In Hawaiʻi County, through a generous grant from the EPA, Reuse Centers are now available at six locations around the island. Much of Hawaiʻi County is rural and the communities are spread out geographically in areas such as Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waimea and Kaʻū. The County does not offer curbside rubbish or recycling and most people self-haul their rubbish and recycling to one of the County’s 21 Recycling & Transfer Stations. By having Reuse Centers in the same area, it preserves products like clothing, kitchen supplies, books, baby items, etc. from ending up in the landfill. The Reuse Centers are operated by Recycle Hawaiʻi, a local non-profit that offers a variety of recycling education programs to the community.
On the island of Oʻahu, another success story is Re-use Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization working to reduce waste through building material reuse and recycling. More than one third of Oʻahu’s waste is construction and demolition debris. Salvaging material for reuse saves resources and energy, creates jobs, and provides a locally produced resource. Re-use Hawai‘i has diverted over 7,000,000 pounds of waste from disposal and created 29 jobs (Source: Reuse Hawaiʻi).
Learn More and Make a Difference
- Hawai‘i County
- Recycle Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i County
- Re-Use Hawai‘i, Honolulu
- Honolulu Craigslist
- EPA, Food Recovery Challenge
- Food too Good to Waste
- Hawaiʻi County’s Reuse Webpage