REUSE; Personal By Definition.

My son and I were recently talking about what the world would be like without the convenience and immediacy of Wikipedia. When I was growing up, my uncle worked for Encyclopedia Britannica and, consequently, our house was filled with all the latest editions. For anything I sought to learn, that was my point of reference. All of my early knowledge was drawn from single resources that seemed at the time rich in detail, pictures and, if you were lucky, really cool overlays.

In today’s world, nobody remembers Encyclopedias and Wikipedia is among the most top ten sites searched in the world. With that said, I was doing some research on “reuse” and wanted to share some basics from the newest source of all knowledge.

To reuse is to use an item again after it has been used. This includes conventional reuse where the item is used again for the same function, and creative reuse where it is used for a different function. In contrast, recycling is the breaking down of the used item into raw materials which are used to make new items. By taking useful products and exchanging them, without reprocessing, reuse help save time, money, energy, and resources. In broader economic terms, reuse offers quality products to people and organizations with limited means, while generating jobs and business activity that contribute to the economy. (Wikipedia)

I was actually quite pleased to see the simplicity of this contrast. However, there is one critical piece missing: the personal and human connection that occurs with reuse. By far, this is the most powerful element and distinguishes reuse from recycling in the most unqualified way. Yet, there remains confusion between the two concepts. This is particularly true with the reuse of clothing, shoes and accessories.  

By definition, the concept of reuse denotes a personal engagement or investment with a return that is enriching, smart and responsible.   Often without conscious regard or intention, when we engage in reuse of clothing, shoes and accessories, we are continuing the lifecycle of an article that we ourselves selected or which was selected for us.   In many instances, we have imbued these articles with a part of our personal history, stories or events that have had a meaningful impact on our personal lives. These personal memories have an emotional currency that is unique to our belongings and to us and certainly transcend any relationship we could enjoy with other recyclable commodities.   While our clothing, shoes and accessories provide a particular utilitarian purpose, they define our fashion interests, our growth and other important milestones. When we have determined that these articles no longer serve our needs or we have outgrown them in some fashion, reuse is by far the highest and best use for both personal and environmental reasons.

When we reuse our clothing, shoes and accessories, something fundamentally human happens. These items are handled and treated differently, as they are destined to be in the hands of someone else in the immediate future, with the specific intention to reuse them and carry on the lifecycle. The connection between and among people engaged in the Reuse Movement is paramount. This is a personal and human event that carries an importance that gains in value every time.     

In short, then, reuse makes recycling personal.


April 24, 2016 by Ira Baseman

Use your imagination...


In our world of post consumer clothing recycling, we are met with the challenge and opportunity of solving a consumption question, an environmental problem and a demand for a better model of reuse. I for one love a challenge and an opportunity. Disruption, creative resource management and the execution of new ideas are compelling enough. Changing an ancient industry can be daunting. Where to start?

First, it’s the people. We consume and discard. We love stuff, preferably good stuff and we need to take responsibility that our formerly loved stuff finds a place with others that will cherish, enrich and respect it. Second, it’s about making the process convenient, engaging, transparent and smart. Third, it’s about using our imagination to find solutions that elevate and enlighten people and create a better process of making the world of fashion, clothing reuse and environmental stewardship easier and habitual.

Sustainability and fashion are here to stay and we can enjoy both. So many companies have embraced the movement and this substantive shift is growing in depth and breadth each day. That said, we see the #reusemovement growing into something more. We see so many opportunities to close the loop and promote reuse. What makes this so different from traditional world of recycling is that people are connected through reuse. We imbue our clothing with emotional attachments, stories and memories and these continue with these articles into their next use and to the next person. This connection is radically enlightening and the results are positive and meaningful to people, planet and our pocket. Reuse is a personal experience that is shared. Think about it.

Go ahead, use your imagination.

March 03, 2016 by Ira Baseman