Mister ReUse

When Alex Eaves wanted to create a skateboarding ramp in his parents’ basement, he pieced together an old door, household scraps, and railroad ties to fashion a fully recycled structure. Growing up in a house full of trinkets and goods, Alex often played with paper towel rolls, made toys from boxes, and fashioned new objects from old junk. “It’s something that I’ve been around and had fun with since I was a little kid,” says Alex of his early love of creative reuse.

It’s no surprise that this entrepreneurial and creative youngster grew up to be a ReUse advocate and well-respected environmental activist. Take a few minutes to chat with Alex Eaves and the importance of his life’s work becomes clear. Alex, a passionate and enthusiastic sustainability expert, advocates for the second ‘R’ in the famous recycling mantra: Reuse. But Alex isn’t all talk, he walks the walk as well. As the founder and owner of STAY VOCALclothing brand, Alex has turned his love of ReUse into a full-time career.

Alex modeling a STAY VOCAL design

Launched in 2003, Alex started the company as a skateboarding apparel brand, often screenprinting on second-hand t-shirts to cut costs. A self-proclaimed t-shirt fanatic, Alex’s passion for fashion began conflicting with his desire to be eco-friendly. At one point, Alex set out to wear a different t-shirt every day of the year to utilize his massive collection. “I had over 400 shirts. I even kept a list. At that point, I knew I had a problem and checked myself into Cotton Anonymous,” Alex jokes. “Not really, but I definitely saw t-shirt consumption as a real problem.”

Before running his own clothing company, Alex worked as a merchandising manager traveling with bands such as 311, Green Day, and Blink 182. Through his involvement in various musical tours, he had a first-hand look at the sheer volume of materials that would be disposed of on a daily basis. He recalls handing out thousands of CDs, flyers, stickers, and t-shirts, then seeing the materials all over the ground after a show. “I saw more new ‘stuff’ being made and sold than I ever imagined. I also saw a lot of this new ‘stuff’ being destroyed without ever having been used once.”

In March of 2008, Alex decided to no longer run STAY VOCAL as a skateboard and apparel company, but rather a ReUse company. Since then, STAY VOCAL has grown to be an influential company in the ReUse movement. The brand exclusively sells items made from already-produced merchandise and even uses existing packaging and shipping material. It’s not uncommon for a STAY VOCAL customer to receive their order in a cereal box. Along with the business practices, many of the products promote environmental and social change through positive mottos and images. One of the brand’s newest items, a bandana for dogs, bears the slogan “Adoption…think about it” to encourage the rescuing of animals from shelters. Like all products sold by the company, the items are made from 100% reused materials.

"Adoption...think about it" STAY VOCAL dog bandana

And the name? Alex attributes the STAY VOCAL title to the importance of engaging in discussion and conversation. “Our voice is the most important tool we have,” says Alex. “I talk a lot and get most of my ideas from talking”. An energetic, confident, and passionate individual, Alex’s inspiring work is supported by his engaging personality.

Alex speaking about the importance of ReUse

With the success of STAY VOCAL came speaker requests and consultation inquiries, and Alex soon began presenting at events and helping businesses incorporate ReUse practices in their work. Add motivational speaking and green event-planning to the resume and you’ve got yourself a true eco-warrior!

Alex’s work, personal story, and social media pages can all be found on his website, but his charm, passion, and personality really come out in a one-on-one conversation. A 30-minute chat with him is full of as much laughter as information.

To top it all off, I invited Alex to a Colorado TEDx event I’m involved with and when I offered to provide accommodation, he expressed a strong preference to crashing on someone’s couch due to the often-wasteful practices of the hospitality industry. Turning down a free hotel stay to avoid waste? Now that’s a sincere commitment to environmental care. From his eco-friendly career to his sustainable lifestyle, Alex Eaves is an undeniable leader of the ReUse movement.

 

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