Reuse and Furniture Recycling

By The Green Team for

This blog is about “reuse”, the important “middle R” from the dictum Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reusing improves the bottom line as well as saves resources, for a win on both counts!

In environmental terms, reuse or repurpose refers to extending the life of an object by using it again, perhaps in a different way. Rather than recycling (which is good, but uses energy) or throwing things away (which is bad, adds to the waste stream), reused items are shared, traded, resold, restored, or converted for a different use.

Designers for the new law building have targeted furnishings from our current building to reuse, including shelving from the library, the Herman Miller chairs used by staff, and the Buckstaff chairs used at the library reading tables. Some reused items will be restained, repainted, or reconditioned to match the new interiors.

The law school practices “reusing” on many fronts, here are a few examples.

  • Before its demolition, Carlson Hall was emptied, and there was an informal office furniture swap meet in the Gibby Reading Room.
  • The staff supply closet contains many office supplies for reuse. You’ll find everything from used file folders, book ends, to binders in there!
  • Rather than exclusively buying new boxes for mailing, moving, or storage, boxes from incoming mail are broken down and stored for reuse.

The law school’s Events staff members are masters at reuse; saving excess or reusable catering supplies (party platters, paper goods, etc.) for future use. At their suggestion, faculty and staff have been given coffee mugs to use (and reuse), reducing the need for disposable drinking cups. Klean Kanteens (insulated thermoses with the school’s logo) are available for purchase at a discounted cost ($14) for faculty and staff, and all students have been given a Klean Kanteen.

The law school’s technology department has a philosophy of reusing whenever possible. All desktop computers have been refurbished. And rather than purchasing new computers and accessories, they are “rolled down” for use by other employees when faculty and staff employees resign.

At least two student law groups raise money through reuse: PILO rents gowns for graduation, and the NLRF has a book sale of donated books. Hats off to faculty who will make large book donations as they get their offices ready for the move to the new building!

As the examples above demonstrate, our law school community already practices reuse. In today’s disposable culture, it can be tempting to throw older, slightly damaged, or worn things away rather than repairing them or looking for another use. Before you do that, consider whether the item can be reused!