Haute RE Magazine

Enlightened consumption

What if convenience were 1000 times better?

Living in a fast-paced city, more often than not we can’t resist the temptation of instant convenience, even though we understand the importance of sustainability in the long run. Sustainable initiatives and thoughtful businesses of the past, while impactful, still required a lot of effort on the consumer’s part: bring your own mug, bring your own containers, drink quickly before the cardboard straw melts. What if we could have it both ways — convenient and sustainable? 

Resuables co-founders Anastasia Kiku and Jason Hawkins

This is where Reusables come in. Co-founders Jason Hawkins and Anastasia Kiku started the business during the depths of the pandemic in 2020. Over 200kg of packaging waste has been diverted from landfill by reusing over 4,000 containers in one year. Hawkins shares that their goal is “to make reuse as convenient as a single-use and accessible to everyone.”

The business model is simple. Users sign up on the Reusables app, order food from participating restaurants, receive their takeout in reusable containers, and return the containers to collection points in their community after each use. In comparison to existing plastic disposable packaging Reusables containers can be reused about 1,000 times before being recycled. 

The co-founders set out to test whether there was demand in the community for resuable containers during the pandemic when disposable plastic use tracked the sharp increase in food delivery. 

The initial goal was to sign up five restaurants and 100 members. Within two weeks, the business had garnered so much interest from the community that they had to temporarily halt additional registrations. With sufficient data to confirm the demand for the service, Hawkins and Kiku proceeded to develop apps and systems to manage inventory. 

Kiku explains that the team works closely with all stakeholders as they continually refine the logistics to build a circular economy: 

It’s always a really close consultation with food businesses and the end consumers and all different parties involved in this. We firmly believe this kind of design approach and systems thinking is the only way to design a system that will work for everyone and really scale, says Kiku.

So far, Reusables has signed up over forty restaurants in the Vancouver area and hundreds of members, with that number growing day by day as the team looks to add more Reusables container collection points and expand to new markets. Earlier in October 2021, the business expanded to North Vancouver, offering more pickup and drop-off points with each new business added to the roster.

So, how much does it cost to be sustainable and have your delivery order arrive in stylish stainless-steel containers? Just five dollars per month. Members have 14 days to return their Reusables containers to a collection point, giving users flexibility in when and where they return the items.

When asked what their next milestone is, the team shares that they aim to reuse 500,000 containers in 2022. If the business can achieve full integration with food delivery apps like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes and DoorDash, this goal is easily within reach.