Reuse: Not Just About Sustainability, It’s Community Building


Remember when reuse was cool? Probably you don’t because since the post-WW ll Industrial Boom and the onslaught of the two headed monster of Madison Ave. and TV, newer, better, shinier has been cool. Unfortunately that culture has created a few problems: overflowing landfills, mountains of personal debt and a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, to name a few. Well, reuse is making a comeback. Not just for economic or even environmental reasons, although those are important drivers, but for reasons associated with community building. Giving, perpetuating place and history and helping out less fortunate neighbors are reasons reuse just feels right. And, they are reasons why reuse is not just another form of trash disposal, it is a “movement.”

This week Triangle Ecycling joined with The Scrap Exchange to establish the Durham Reuse Network, a virtual community of businesses, nonprofits and individuals in Durham, NC promoting reuse as an important foundation of sustainability. The community is open to everyone with the mission of raising awareness and connecting those who would like to help grow the reuse movement in Durham. Our first step was to create an open member group on LinkedIn.  The Network will be popping up in other places online and in Durham. Our goal is to begin a virtual reuse district that will eventually materialize in one of our old tobacco warehouses or another reusable building in one of the up and coming neighborhoods on the edge of downtown Durham.

Reuse is already a pretty powerful concept in Durham. Enlightened players like Capitol Broadcasting, Measurement, Inc., Scientific Properties and many others, as ably documented on Open Durham, have applied the concept to buildings which promote our sense of history and ties to earlier communities. Since 1991, The Scrap Exchange has been fulfilling its mission of promoting creativity, environmental awareness, and community through reuse. In the short time Triangle Ecycling has been collecting and refurbishing computers (see E-Scholar Program) for those unable to pay for the newest and fastest, we’ve discovered and supported a second economy for computers ranging from free to $80. The ReUse Warehouse takes houses apart by hand and resells flooring, mantels and other building supplies. But none of these enterprises is doing this and thriving for economic or environmental reasons alone.

When we share because we want someone else to be able to use something of ours that is still perfectly good we connect with others. Our material goods, karma and all, have a second life providing fun and creativity, education, shelter, sustainability and other important aspects of a strong community.  The concept of a Reuse District has been a hit in New Orleans contributing to rebuilding the housing stock and the torn community following Katrina. The Scrap Exchange’s Reuse Rodeo has already proven to be a popular community building activity in Durham. With the LinkedIn Group we are looking to continue the process of identifying people, businesses and nonprofits that believe in the mission and want to promote the movement. Join today and start sharing. 

Triangle Ecycling is on a mission to promote a new alchemy: converting e-waste into education. We provide a way for businesses, organizations and individuals to support sustainability education and give back to the Triangle community through electronics refurbishing and recycling.
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