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Ways to encourage reuse in your community

Promoting a culture of reuse in your community is one way to share the lessons you’ve learned in your personal life with your neighbors and friends. From hosting garage sales and neighborhood swaps, to lending tools and yard equipment, the avenues for sharing within in our neighborhoods are plentiful, and it’s also a great way to get to know people in your community better. Continue reading to learn ways to reduce waste in your community and contribute to a more vibrant and interconnected network of reuse advocates!

Garage sales

An activity that seems as old as time is the garage sale. You can host your own, or support community reuse by hosting a neighborhood garage sale. This can be done at one household or many. Pool your resources by advertising one location or block for treasure hunters to have a great outing and only have to park their car once.

Mother and daughter at a garage sale

Lend or borrow yard equipment, gardening items, or tools instead of buying your own

We know you already ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar from time to time, but how about asking them if you can borrow their fertilizer spreader or pruners? No reason for everyone on the block to own multiple items that get used once a year at best.

Neighborhood swaps

Even more fun that hosting a garage sale, have you ever thought about having a day of swaps with your neighbors? This could be anything from clothing to toys or even spare leftover lumber or tools from projects that you no longer need. Need ideas of how to get started? Read Martha Stewart’s advice for hosting a clothing swap.

Woman looking through rack of clothing at a clothing swap

Hand me downs to younger neighbors

In my neighborhood, a children’s size picnic table is now on its fourth family. Once the kids outgrow it there has been another family that has kids young enough to enjoy it. This is a fun way to build community, and behind it is building community reuse. Have sand toys the kids no longer play with? Put it out on the curb with a ‘free’ sign on it. Likely it will be gone by the end of the day. Hand me downs don’t have to be with just family members, so be creative when deciding what to do with an item you no longer need.

Buy Nothing groups

Becoming much more common in ways to promote community sustainability, Buy Nothing groups are popping up all over Facebook. These groups are a great way to give away perfectly good items to people in your community that have a use for them. Make a purchase you can’t return? Post to see if someone nearby can use it. Kids aren’t interested in their trucks anymore? See if a family across the parkway can use it. Have birthday decorations you no longer use? There’s likely a neighbor that would be more than willing to take them off your hands. You’ll never know what you’ll find on the buy nothing pages. Find a Buy Nothing group in your neighborhood.

Support local non-profits

In Hennepin County you don’t need to look far to find a nonprofit or house of worship that is willing to take usable items that they will in turn give to those in need or sell the item to support their charitable work. This idea of community sustainability measures much deeper than just a mason jar being reused by someone picking up the art of canning their harvest from the garden. And while you are at it, if the non-profit of house of worship has a reuse sale or store, be sure to check them out before purchasing something new. See our guide to great thrifting in Hennepin County for ideas.

Little Free Library – books, puzzles

You have seen Little Free Libraries pop up all-over neighborhoods in Hennepin County. They can be anything from small boxes on the curb of a neighbor housing books to share, to a pantry to share food for those who may be in a tight financial situation.

But other libraries are also popping up, and we don’t mean books. In Hennepin County there are several membership-based libraries for tools, toys, and more! The Minnesota Tool Library, the Twin Cities Library of Things, and the Minneapolis Toy Library are a few local options. Learn more about the growing popularity of tool lending libraries, and maybe you’ll even want to start your own sharing library to help your community reuse more.

Little Free Library

Be a model

Last but not least, be a model for others. The more you reuse and let your friends and neighbors know you reuse, the more the community grows.