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 Waste Target.
The primary target for this goal comes from the annual tons of material diverted per fiscal year (Reuse Hawaiʻi). 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 constant 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 can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.
One of the best ways to live zero waste is to Reuse. Reuse means using things multiple times, 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 Hawaii County is rural and the communities are spread out geographically in areas such as Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Waimea and Kau. 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 Hawaii, a local non-profit that offers a variety of recycling education programs to the community.
On the island of Oahu, another success story is Re-use Hawaii, a non-profit organization working to reduce waste through building material reuse and recycling. More than one third of Oahu’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).
Hawaiʻi is the first state in the U.S. to have plastic bag reduction laws in all counties! Shopping with a reusable bag is simple, easy and one of the best ways to reduce and reuse. Plastic bags kill fish, turtles, birds and other animals that mistake the plastic for food. Reusable bags made from a washable fabric are long-lasting and one bag can replace thousands of plastic bags. Links to Plastic Bag Laws in Hawai‘i:
Maui County: http://www.co.maui.hi.us/index.aspx?NID=1688
City & County of Honolulu: http://www.opala.org/solid_waste/archive/plastic_bag_ban.html
Learn More and Make a Difference
When buying big-ticket items, save money and buy a used car or buy used household goods like washers, dryers, and refrigerators.
When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bag.
Keep reusable bags by the door or in your car.
Keep bags in pockets, backpacks or your purse.
Keep bags clean by washing them regularly.
Give reusable bags to your friends and family.
If you do get a disposable food container, wash and reuse it.
Take a coffee mug from home when you go to a coffee shop.
Reuse the back side of paper for taking notes.
Repair broken or worn items if possible.
Buy, sell or donate used items.
- Hawai‘i County - http://www.hawaiizerowaste.org/reuse/
- Recycle Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i County - http://www.recyclehawaii.org/
- Re-Use Hawai‘i, Honolulu - http://www.reusehawaii.org/home.php
- Craigslist - https://honolulu.craigslist.org/
- EPA, Food Recovery Challenge - http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge
- Freecycle - https://www.freecycle.org/browse/US/Hawaii
- Food too Good to Waste - http://westcoastclimateforum.com/food
- Hawaiʻi County’s Reuse Webpage: http://www.hawaiizerowaste.org/reuse/#.VRnTnGR4rrA
- Hawai‘i County -http://www.habitatwesthawaii.org/
- Hawai‘i County - http://www.hilohabitat.org/
- Honolulu - http://www.honoluluhabitat.org/
- Kaua‘i County - http://kauaihabitat.org/
- Maui County - http://www.habitat-maui.org/