Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the basic tenets of an eco-friendly lifestyle – but these practices can sometimes be a challenge to adopt; whether it’s because we live in a place that has limited recycling options or we simply forgot our reusable water bottle, becoming more eco-friendly requires a cultural shift and more options for sustainability.
Read on to learn how James Wilson, co-founder of reUser, embraces the principles of sustainability to create the infrastructure for easy reuse options; his company helps organizations save money and reduce their environmental impact by providing a solution that replaces single-use packaging with durable, reusable containers. Let’s learn more about James!
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
As a student at Wesleyan University, I was always interested in the environment and the impacts of climate change, but it wasn’t until after I graduated while working in software product management that I realized how I could make a difference in this fight. At Wesleyan University, we had reusable takeout containers that we could use at our dining halls on campus to take our food with us where we wanted. I loved them because it enabled me to have a direct impact in helping to reduce the waste that I caused and also saved me money from needing to purchase a new container. However, I often forgot to bring back my container and would need to purchase a new one. At the end of the year, I often had 4-5 containers sitting in my room that did not end up back in the dining hall. I later talked to my university and discovered, that they were losing thousands of these containers every year, costing them tens of thousands to replace these containers and worsening their environmental impact. I launched reUser to make sure each reusable gets reused longer by providing a mobile app to make reusing more convenient for members and container tracking to give organizations transparency into how frequently and where containers are being dropped off and picked up.
What is a fun fact about you?
I love mountains, but I particularly love the feeling of being on the very top of a snow covered mountain, looking out over everything else in the areas as I prepare to take the plunge on my snowboard.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
If we do not act now, we will not have a future to act later. Additionally, the money is finally starting to align behind making climate change a priority. Consumers are starting to do more research into where the items they buy come from and are making it known that price is not the only thing that matters.If we do not act now, we will not have a future to act laterIf we do not act now, we will not have a future to act later. Additionally, the money is finally starting to align behind making climate change a priority. Consumers are starting to do more research into where the items they buy come from and are making it known that price is not the only thing that matters.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
I envision a world where any packaging can be reusable. We will have systems in place not only to make the collection of the reusable packaging ubiquitous, but also reward those that continue to reuse. Consumers will take ownership not just of the items that they purchase within the package, but also of the package itself.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
The low-hanging fruit I’ve found so far for me have been reusable bags for shopping (just keep a few stashed in the car), metal/Nalgene water bottles to avoid buying more bottles when they aren’t needed, metal straws (easy to clean in a dishwasher cycle), and asking not to get utensils if you know you are bringing the takeout food back home where you have metal utensils anyways. My partner and I have gone towards stocking an extra pair of utensils in our car because many restaurants don’t automatically supply utensils anyways.
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