When you buy used items, or others reuse items that you’re finished with, you avoid the need for a new item to be made. That saves the raw materials, energy and water that would have been used to manufacture it. Reusing an item saves about 20 times as much energy as recycling it, according to Waste Management. While it can take a little bit more effort to see an item reused than simply recycling it when you are finished with it, the environmental benefits of keeping items in use for as long as possible are huge!
If you're getting rid of items that are still usable, we recommend donating, selling, or gifting them to neighbors. Here are some ideas:
- Many donation centers in Kirkland accept clothing, usable furniture, household goods and more
- Hopelink in Totem Lake accepts donations of extra hygiene items, diapers, paper items, and cleaning items
- Northwest Center trucks will come to your home to accept donations of clothing and housewares, as will Habitat for Humanity for large loads that won't fit in your car
- Kirkland has multiple Buy Nothing Kirkland facebook groups, which connect you with others in your neighborhood to gift and receive items from your neighbors
- Resell clothing at one of the many consignment stores in Kirkland
- Host a clothing swap with your friends and family, or even your neighborhood
- Reuse shipping materials and gift wrappings
- Consider selling or giving away your usable electronics before recycling them
The concept of a circular economy offers a different approach to how we use materials. Instead of our current system, which extracts materials, uses them, and then disposes them, the circular economy finds ways to keep materials in use, designs waste out of the system as much as possible, and regenerates natural systems.
Although a true circular economy would require a full systemic shift, you can help keep materials in use for as long as possible. Donating your used goods is one piece of that; purchasing used items instead of new when you can is the other half of the equation.
- Buy used and vintage / antique furniture and household items
- Shop for clothing at thrift stores, consignment stores, and online secondhand marketplaces
- Try renting clothing for special occasions where you'll only wear the item once
- Look for "upcycled" products, which are made from directly reclaimed materials, like repurposing old vinyl billboards to make bags and sewing bike tubes together to make wallets
- Check out "used gear" programs when you need new outdoor equipment and athletic clothing
- Use salvaged materials for home improvement projects and remodels
- Purchase refurbished electronics
- When you buy new items, look for those that contain recycled material (especially post-consumer content)
- Always buy recycled paper, and look for high percentages of post-consumer content
- Buy recycled paint, available at architectural salvage stores
- Consider whether an item is repairable if it breaks before you buy it — are replacement parts available?
- Choose electronics based on how repairable they are — see iFixit’s repairability ratings for smartphones, laptops, and tablets