In France, "Resource Stores" Recycle, Repair, Upcycle and Resell "Waste"

If you ever took high school French, you probably learned (and forgot) words like la patisserie and la boulangerie. But you likely never heard la ressourcerie - and it wasn't your teacher's fault. Joining France's countless pastry shops and bakeries is a new kind of shop, which collects unwanted goods, repairing them if necessary, selling or upcycling them if possible, and, if all else fails, properly recycling them. And their numbers are growing.

Ressourceries, which could be translated as "resource shops," operate something like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, accepting donations of used goods and reselling them at discounted prices. But the ressourceries take it to the next level by just about anything that's brought through the door.

The results are impressive; photos of a Paris ressourcerie look like an upcyling wonderland. Lamps with plastic bottle shades, tennis ball photo frames, a mirror framed by recycled tires sit among shelves of books and racks of clothing. The Interloque Ressourcerie in Paris even collects and repairs old computers, creating affordable options for simple uses.

According to the national network's web site, ressourceries have four functions:

  • Collect and add value to waste to resell objects at modest prices
  • Increase public awareness of "eco-citizen" acts of reducing waste through the three Rs
  • Act for the environment
  • Develop an economy of solidarity and cooperate openly with all

With the repair and resale of old goods, everyone wins: Jobs are offered to those with low social-economic status; goods are sold at reasonable prices; raw materials are saved; the City spends less money collecting and sorting trash.

So far, there are only two ressourceries in Paris and around 80 in France. But the idea is catching on, and four more are set to open in the capital in 2012.

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In France, "Resource Stores" Recycle, Repair, Upcycle and Resell "Waste"
A growing network of "ressourceries" takes unwanted goods, repairing and reselling them.