ReUSE Minnesota

ReUSE Minnesota is a non-profit trade association bringing visibility to Minnesota’s reuse, rental and repair sectors through networking, publicity, and events. Its vision is a strong Minnesota reuse economy that leads the nation in documented environmental benefits through the intentional actions of committed individuals and institutions. ReUSE Minnesota has over 40 business, non-profit, institutional, and individual members in sectors ranging from antiques to costume rentals to repair services.

Within its network, business-to-business networking is a big help. Member businesses have found new sources for inventory or reuse options for inventory they can’t sell, resulting in more reuse and less disposal. By bringing these reuse groups together and creating a unified message to promote reuse, rental and repair, ReUSE Minnesota is strengthening a growing sector that benefits Minnesota’s environment and economy. Alicia Wold, General Manager for CostumeRentals, a ReUSE Minnesota member said, “ReUSE Minnesota is bringing together business owners and organizations that might not have ordinarily known about each other. As people from different reuse sectors get to know about each other’s work, new opportunities and partnerships are created. I have learned about outlets for used clothing, shoes, and rag fabrics which has helped us divert worn out costume pieces to places other than the waste stream. I also have a better sense of reuse sources and outlets in the community so I can refer others to those sources."  Click here for more info.

iWasteNot Systems' Platform For Reuse

iWasteNot Systems, a family-run business based in Ontario Canada, is a “software as service” provider. Essentially, it creates and maintains a customizable software platform that allows states, cities and even large companies to host their own web-based materials exchanges, reuse directories, and surplus materials management systems.  iWasteNot supplies these web-based surplus materials exchanges in communities throughout the United States and Canada with a package of services which includes software, web-hosting, security, support and training. In return for an annual fee, iWasteNot provides a total system designed to make creating and operating a materials exchange as simple, inexpensive and effective as possible. Its system also tracks and reports on the weight and nature of waste diverted and the dollar savings and greenhouse gas emissions avoided through diversion. If you’d like to get your head wrapped around the concept of a materials exchange, be sure to check out another Reuse Alliance member, Reuse Marketplace, that uses the iWasteNot platform. The benefit of the platform, and of materials exchanges in general, is that they help communities move toward sustainability by improving the management of ‘surplus chains’ and increasing the flow of information pertaining to reuse. 

iWasteNot began providing material exchanges in 2003 for both residential and commercial markets. In the residential arena, its customers (generally municipal governments) have asked for more “3R” information – so IWasteNot expanded its “Recyclopedia” (an online reuse and recycling guide for communities), as well as local reuse-related news boards and event calendars. In the commercial arena, iWasteNot focuses on more of a B2B style of material exchange and has been working to meet client requests for combined private and public exchanges, a “surplus resource management” plugin, a ‘transportation plugin’, and a mobile app. One of the materials exchange managers using this system, Bill Smith of the City of Tacoma, says of iWasteNot, “What a great service the materials exchange has been in Tacoma and Pierce County. We have a great group of users and I get positive feedback from them on a daily basis.” When asked about their connection to Reuse Alliance, Norm Ruttan, owner of iWasteNot System says, “We’re a family company with an environmental ethic going back several generations. We appreciate the Reuse Alliance as a ‘Chamber of Reuse’ to coordinate, instigate, advocate for and grow reuse for all of us. We’re looking forward to rolling out our new and improved software in 2014 and growing our part of the reuse community.” Click here for more info.

Bag the Habit

Bag The Habit is a reusable bag company with a mission to make “little bags, with lots of purpose.” Bag the Habit manufactures fashionable reusable shopping bags with durable eco-textiles. Founded in 2007, Bag the Habit has replaced millions of paper and plastic disposables through the sale of its reusable products to the public and through partnerships with brands like Martha Stewart, Oprah, and Guess Jeans. Liz Long, Bag the Habit co-founder, said, “reusability is not just about exchanging one item for another. It is a matter of mindset. It is replacing unnecessarily damaging patterns with those based on wisdom and foresight. It is an awareness that our collective evolution requires personal activism and effort, but ultimately creates greater benefits and enjoyment for all.” In regards to the wider world of reuse, Liz  said that she has “been wishing someone would form an organization like the Reuse Alliance. It’s so great to bring everyone around this cause together! We’re excited for Bag the Habit to be a part of it and look forward to working with Reuse Alliance and it’s partners to teach many more people about the importance of reusability.” Click here for more info.

Resource Depot

Resource Depot is a nonprofit resource wonderland and learning center where materials are revived, repurposed and redistributed to those committed to creative exploration through reuse. Founded in 1999 by a diverse group of organizations, Resource Depot ties them all together with one common goal – providing Palm Beach County’s children with expanded arts and education programs while helping the environment through reuse. Resource Depot’s many community programs include teacher and nonprofit “shopping” memberships for reusable materials, in-school and onsite creative workshops for creatives of all ages and outreach initiatives engaging the public in creative reuse.

One such project, the Guerilla A.R.T. (All Reusable Trash) Challenge, takes place at the Artigras Fine Arts Festival in February each year. The Challenge pits teams of “makers” of all ages and skill levels against each other and the clock to create works of art from the reusable trash provided. Jennifer O’Brien, Resource Depot’s executive director, expands on this and says that “the Depot is not just a source for the reusable materials to realize eco-friendly creative projects, but it’s a source of inspiration and the hub of the creative community as well." Luis Aponte of the Palm Beach County Public Library System recently shared with Jennifer the steam engine they created for Florida’s 500th anniversary celebration, using primarily materials gathered through their Resource Depot membership. When sharing the creation of their steam engine with us, Luis said “I just wanted to say “Thank you so very much for this great service you provide in the community! Thanks to the materials our library got from the Resource Depot, we were able to build a steam train to celebrate Florida’s 500th anniversary at the VIVA Florida 500 parade. Thank you so much! Here’s a video on how we built it. Enjoy!”  Click here for more info about Resource Depot. 

Hannah's Treasure Chest

Hannah’s Treasure Chest (Hannah’s) is a children’s clothing bank – and so much more – that has been enriching the lives of children in need since its inception in 2001.  Hannah’s serves a large four-county region in and around the city of Dayton, Ohio. As a conduit for basic necessities such as clothing, shoes, equipment, books and toys, the organization has been evolving in size, scope and structure. The idea for Hannah’s originally came when Angela Addington found that friends and co-workers were more than willing to share their gently used baby and children’s items with those who could use them. During that first year, Hannah’s distributed 2,898 items of clothing, furniture, and toys through two partners.Today, Hannah’s occupies an 8,000 sq ft warehouse facility and employs two staff members. Warehouse responsibilities are supervised and staffed by a corps of more than 60 dedicated volunteers.

Hannah’s collaborates with over 50 partner agencies in Montgomery, Greene, Warren, and Butler counties. During 2012 alone, over 7,000 children were served by Hannah’s. Executive Director Sarah Williams said, “By providing gently used children’s items, the families Hannah's serves are able to allocate their limited financial resources to other basic needs for the family.” Hannah’s is pretty darn close to being a zero waste facility and works hard to close the loop. Materials that come in that can't be used for its partner’s families, such as adult clothing, accessories and books, and items that don’t meet the “Hannah standard” set by the volunteer corps are re-donated through a vibrant network of reuse partners that take almost anything you can imagine.

When in need of a particular resource it hasn’t been able to get through its donors (e.g. shoes and socks), Hannah's purchases those items from local thrift stores. Sarah adds, “We have a duty to be stewards of our internal resources and also the earth’s resources.” In addition to the obvious environmental and the social impacts, Hannah’s also offers a tremendous economic impact locally. For every $10 dollars donated, Hannah’s provides $90 worth of goods back to out the community. That plus the tax benefits enjoyed by donors really creates a win-win-win. When asked why she choose to connect with Reuse Alliance, Sarah said that, “Becoming a Reuse Alliance member is the next step in Hannah’s Treasure Chest’s evolution. As a nonprofit we have a duty to be excellent stewards of our resources, both financial and in-kind, and we advocate for others to follow our example. We are and will continue to be dedicated to the process of reuse throughout the entire organization.” For more info, click here