The R's Of Sustainability: Refuse + Repurpose

Sustainability is on everyone’s mind these days, as it should be! There are key points to analyze, such as what we have done in the past, what we need to continue doing, and what practices we need to change. Most are familiar with the phrase, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” in an attempt to curb the mass pollution problems that we are facing. Reducing allows us to look at current daily practices and consumption. Reusing reminds us to look at ways to utilize an item after it’s initial use or even parts of it so it can be given a second life. Recycling is the last resort, when it cannot be reused, but instead transformed and molded into a new item or material.  


Some organizations have introduced additional “R’s” including Refuse, by the Made Safe agency. They encourage consumers to refuse products created with polluting plastic materials and instead incorporate a number of other plastic-free tips into your daily routine. These include using glass or reusable containers, avoiding plastic bags, or making your own snacks instead of purchasing single-use, pre-packaged items. In other cases, Refuse can also apply to refusing to buy items that you don’t need, literally not buying into the social norm of overconsumption. Those frequent sales and new products can be quite enticing of course, but it’s important to start being mindful about your daily purchases. Do you really need it, or do you simply want it, or can what you already own be repaired or repurposed?


Another “R” is Repurpose, or taking something and making it into something new without substantially changing the material or altering its composition by using a lot of additional energy to process. One example could be taking precious metals and stones and making it into a new piece of jewelry. Another could be covering an old piece of furniture with new fabric or refinishing or painting the wood. A very simple DIY example would be taking wooden pallets and repurposing them into a table or patio furniture.

We share more about this portion of sustainability in our article here on zero waste living which discusses the organization, rePurpose, as a global resource for businesses and individuals on which actionable steps to take. This article is another resource on tips for shifting to a more sustainable skincare routine. 

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