Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Sweden has rightfully earned the reputation of being one of the most sustainably conscious country. Recycle, reduce and reuse is already their top agenda. ReTuna shopping mall is a unique mall, but there is nothing new there! Literally.

ReTuna shopping mall is a two-story complex of second-hand stores in the city of Eskilstuna, which it is named after, in Sweden. The stores only sell products which are either recycled or donated by people.

The mall is situated near a recycling centre, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria. Customers drop off the goods they no longer need at the facility and then go buy something new from the mall, which is not exactly new!

A view of ReTuna Mall

These goods are sorted into different workshops, refurbished or repaired as per the requirement and transformed into a brand new product.

The mall consists of stores that sells second-hand furniture, computers, audio equipment, clothes, toys, bikes, and gardening and building materials. The cafe and restaurant at the mall provide food made from organic products. There is also a conference and exhibition facility and a specialty school for studying recycling. All in one place!

Second-hand

Local municipality operates the centre. It has created 50 new repair and retail jobs and provided space for private start-ups and local artisans.

The recycled and reused items sold are cheaper than the newly manufactured goods.

ReTuna is designed to help tackle rising consumption on a local level, promoting Eskilstuna as a “green role model” for other Swedish cities. The mall brings as many used products as available under one shopping centre. It’s more convenient for people who wants to shop sustainably without travelling from places to places to find sustainable products.

The mall has also generated employment for immigrants in the Swedish labor market. Many of the stores use a national program which subsidizes the salaries of newly settled residents for up to two years. It had sales of 2.5 million Swedish krona in 2015 (about $275,000) the year it opened, rising to 10.2 million SEK ($1.12 million) in 2017.

“Our idea is that the customer comes here and leaves for example some furniture and clothing that can get tired or have no use for anymore,” says Anna Bergström, center manager ReTuna Recycling Galleria.

“Then you go a lap at the mall. Maybe find a new jacket and a new framework that will make the photograph of the grandfather unique and extra fine. Since you eat organic lunch in our restaurant to gather strength to go another lap and find new flowers for the garden and a new lamp for the living room. When you leave here, you should feel that you did something good for the environment and that they shopped climate.”

Similar trends have been observed in other countries too. Michigan in the U.S. has its own ReUse Centre for the sale of second-hand household, building and gardening materials.  Kierrätyskeskus is a chain of markets selling second-hand furniture, electronics, books, and textiles.

Second-hand markets still have a long way to go and challenges lie ahead. The items that are sold in markets today are often of cheap quality and are not fit for recycling and reusing. And people generally tend to buy new products. The mentality shift is the need of the hour.

Reducing waste and bringing circular economy in the picture are ways to halt exploitation of our natural resources. The world needs more centres like ReTuna, who are making second-hand products fashionable and trendy. Let’s hope we see more of such facilities in the near future. The world change when your thoughts change.

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