ReUse Industries

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Our Story and Our Mission

After four years getting Athens MakerSpace up-and-running, and with our 25th anniversary arriving in 2019, we are so excited to write the next chapter in our story!

Here’s where we came from:

ReUse Industries was established in 1994 by a committee of community volunteers pulled together by Rural Action to establish an “Ultimate Recycling Center” with a sustainable economic development mission: to promote, support, sponsor and conduct economic development activities, including research, job creation, job training and business development, that utilize waste and discarded resources.

In other words, we turn waste into wealth for the communities we serve by being thoughtful stewards of our planet’s limited resources.

In 1994, we got started by purchasing a 30-acre farm property near Albany, Ohio and establishing the first community-based recycling and reuse center in Appalachian Ohio including retail, repair, recycling, product development, workforce training and other activities.

We expanded into Athens with the establishment of our Thrift Store on Columbus Road in 2001.

In 2012, we developed a more ambitious strategic vision, many new partnerships and a set of new programs focusing on making and fixing: the Reuse Tool Library, FixerSpace, Fix-It Workshops, Upcycling and the annual Appalachian Ohio ReUse Competition.

In 2014, we decided to develop a makerspace and got to work on that, ultimately selling our original property near Albany to make Athens MakerSpace possible.

We finalized a business plan and secured a makerspace site in 2016, followed by facility design, renovations, further resource development and tool acquisition leading to the establishment of Athens MakerSpace in 2018. Along with improving our existing store on Columbus Road in Athens, we also launched a new store in Athens (ReUse on Union) and a new online store (Athens FabMaker on Etsy) to help support the makerspace and further our sustainable economic development mission.

Athens MakerSpace Start-up would not have been possible without the help of many supporters and partners. We cannot adequately list our hundreds of individual partners and supporters here, but we’d like to acknowledge the following major supporters and partners (alphabetical):

Appalachian Regional Commission
Athens-Hocking Recycling Centers
Athens Janitorial Supply
Athens County Foundation
Athens County Department of Job and Family Services
Central Appalachian Network
Charles G. O’Bleness Foundation
City of Athens
Corporation for National and Community Service
June Holley
Ohio CDC Association
One Foundation
Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
Ohio University’s LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network
Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering
Rural Action
Sugar Bush Foundation
Sugar Bush Valley LLC
William Beale Legacy Fund

And here’s a shout out to some of the great makerspaces and tool libraries we learned from (alphabetical):

Artisan’s Asylum, Somerville. MA
Curious Forge, Grass Valley, CA
Dallas Makerspace, Dallas, TX
Idea Foundry, Columbus, OH
IDEA Lab, Zanesville, OH
Maker Works, Ann Arbor, MI
Makerpoint Studios, Sandpoint, ID
Open Works, Baltimore, MD
Rebuilding Together Tool Library, Columbus, OH
Staunton Makerspace, Staunton, VA
Vocademy. Riverside, CA
West Seattle Tool Library, Seattle, WA

In addition to Athens MakerSpace, here are some of our programs:

The Tool Library, located at Athens MakerSpace, provides individuals, families and non-profit organizations with access to over 550 new and donated tools via low-cost annual memberships. Our library includes hand tools, corded and cordless carpentry and maintenance tools, landscaping tools, clean-up tools, lawnmowers, tillers, a log splitter, a drywall lift, ladders and more. The library currently has over 70 members. Our Fix-It Workshops help people of all ages diagnose and fix their broken belongings with assistance from skilled volunteer fixing coaches. In our past workshops, we achieved a 60+% fix success rate with electronics, appliances, computers, lighting, clothing, toys, games, furniture and other items while bringing people together to teach and learn new skills. We promote and conduct upcycling activities in order to turn otherwise wasted materials into new products, training opportunities, fun experiences and jobs. ReUse provides materials to artists and crafters, researches and produces upcycled products, offers upcycling workshops and organizes upcycling events with partners including arts and education organizations.
Located at the ReUse Thrift Store on Columbus Road, our FixerSpace provides valuable learning and community service opportunities to trainees, student interns and volunteers in testing, researching, refurbishing, repairing, upcycling and recycling donated electronics, appliances, computers and other items. Our annual Appalachian Ohio ReUse Competition promotes and celebrates upcycled products made from re-used materials. In its first three years, the competition drew a wide range of creative entries from eight different counties and we awarded cash prizes to youth and adults in categories including art, clothing/jewelry, home and garden, furniture and technology.