Recently, I wrote a short spot on scrappers and trashers. It focused on 2 professions, the first belonging largely to illegal immigrants trying to make a living under the radar by picking up scrap metal and selling it to recycling yards, the later focuses on a new industry aimed at vacating foreclosed homes by literally trashing all that remains from the previous inhabitants, including TV's, personal items, and furniture. It went on to compare the two and pose the question, what is right and what it wrong? What is socially accepted, and what is environmentally responsible?
Today, I present to you a third option. An option that I believe reflects the inherent sustainability and opportunity that is present in these times of economic hardship. Richard Bryant is a 62 year old widowed man living in Detroit Michigan. He runs a resale shop out of the ramshackle house next door, selling used good from foreclosed homes and abandoned homes of the deceased. Every two weeks or so Bryant will get a call from a real estate agent who will offer him all the remains from a newly vacated home so long as he clears the house. He then picks up the goods and brings them back to the house next door as new stock for his flourishing resale shop.
Reuse is such a beautiful thing, and to realize that, one must only surpass the stigma that everything good must be new. Braynt has capitalized on this beauty, and those who realize it, will too capitalize by finding great materials at a price simply incomparable to any other. It doesn't require sacrificing quality (often the opposite), it doesn't require parts made by slaves, it simply requires one to disregard a persistent social stigma. And when you buy a reused clock for instance, you can rest assured that you are saving a perfectly good clock from the landfill, that you are saving a new clock from being made (theoretically), and that your clock has a history and a story unlike any other.
The benefits and appeal of reuse are no surprise to those who value the environment, but the real relevance of Bryant's story comes from it's place in today's economic crisis. It fits the bill calling for a new green economy by celebrating wholeheartedly the ideals of reuse. It provides goods at a price which can be obtained by all, including those who have lost their jobs in recent months. Everything is found locally, and transportation is kept to a minimum. But the best part of this story is the fact that Bryant has created his own business, his own initiative, just out of the dilapidated house next door. Without an ounce of business experience, but the drive to keep busy, Bryant grew a grassroots business from the ground up. In the meantime, he has created a life that he is happy with, and unwilling to leave. He provides a truly sustainable service to the community, and operations like these, I believe, lead to stronger, healthier communities and economies. In a time of economic hardship, Bryant has found hope and opportunity in what was previously seen as waste.
(Photo from detroitblog. The original full-sized color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)