Reuse Economy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This is not about reusing the economy but about an economy of reuse rather. Reusing what we have and this reuse can, does and will take many different forms.

It will, however, stifle the economic growth – and a good thing that will be too – that the powers-that-be keep telling us we must have in order to prosper; they that is, not us, the ordinary man and woman.

The economy today, the one that they promote, is an obsolete model. It is not broken, however. It was designed this way. It is, however, not fit for any purpose on a finite Planet and is only designed to exploit both man and beast and the Earth.

Douglas Rushkoff has said that we are living in an economy where productivity is no longer the goal, employment is. That's because, on a very fundamental level, we have pretty much everything we need. America is productive enough that it could probably shelter, feed, educate, and even provide health care for its entire population with just a fraction of us actually working.

That is what is called overproduction and has nothing to do with making things that are needed but with keeping “slaves” employed – and only that to some degree – and thus built-in obsolescence in products, graveyards for newly produced cars, etc.

Industry keeps producing things that no one buys, because they do not have the money to do so, to make it appear as if the economy is booming. In the case of cars they go even so far as to register those – even though those new cars are destined to be scrapped as no one buys them – to themselves and their agents to make it appear that x-amount of new cars have been bought.

In the main the reuse economy will operate at home and in the community and it is about what it says on the tin; reusing. Reusing what we have and extending the life of everything that we have as well as and especially making use of all those “free” things such as waste materials in form of packaging, such as glass jars, tin cans, cardboard boxes, etc. and also about repairing the goods we have. (More repair in the “repair economy”).

Reusing what we have got instead of buying new and passing on to others those things that still work well and that are good but which we no longer use so that someone else can make use of them.

But, it does not end there!

There are different kinds of reuse that form part of the reuse economy.

The first is reuse per se which means actually to keep using what you already have got instead of buying new simply because it is new (and has more bells and whistles you never will use in a lifetime). The old American adage “If it ain't broke don't fix it” would apply here with but to read “If it ain't broke don't toss it out”. And before you toss it out because it no longer works also see as too whether it can actually be fixed and then kept going. That is the first part of the reuse economy.

The second part of the reuse economy is, as far as I see it, reuse of waste, predominately packaging waste, to repurpose for another, “higher”, use. This is often also called nowadays upcycling. When I was a kid no such names were available and it was just something you did and glass jars became storage containers and even drinking vessels, to substitute glasses; shoe-boxes became filing boxes; tin cans were used also for all manner of things, and the list could go on.

If you would see my kitchen cupboards and counters you would know that I do not just preach it but that I practice it too. There are drinking glasses that are repurposed glass jars, cutlery bins that are tin cans, containers made from milk jugs to hold cleaning materials and tools, and so on. I do not believe in buying something when I can make it myself for nothing, or almost nothing. Why should I throw those glass jars and other things out. After all, indirectly and theoretically, and also practically, I have paid for them when buying the good which were packaged in them.

The reuse economy, so to speak, on a third level is still very active when people, neighbors, pass children's clothes, for instance, that their children have grown out of to others whose children and younger and the same for toys. And then there is the other level of “freecycle” and similar Internet sites and places, and also places in the real world, where items no longer in use in one home (or office) find another good home elsewhere and will continue to be used.

This also goes for the reusing of perfectly good furniture, or items of furniture that may need a little TLC and tuning, and mix and match for furnishing the home was once the way and it is becoming a trend again with some. And why not?

But, as said, the powers-that-be do not really like this kind of economy as it does not help the GDP and the corporations. Tough luck to them. Let them call me a terrorist and yes some government people have just done that some time back when they accused all those people who are thrifty and are reusing and such as equal to domestic terrorists as they – we, as I include myself, thank you – are not spending to grow the economy, the one that they are promoting.

We need to change the economic model to one that benefits both man and Planet and not the big corporations and in fact there is more than one economic model that we must combine to make things work in the right way. Reuse is part of this, as is repair.

© 2014