I watch TV shows like the BBC’s “Money for Nothing” with despair sometimes. Who am I kidding, every time. The reason is waste. When I see people throwing away perfectly usable objects just because they don’t want them, from kids bikes to three-piece suites, it makes me cringe. Why? Well, because of all the people who could make use of them. People will religiously wash out their yoghurt pots and put them in the recycling bin, “doing their bit for the planet”, but then take still usable items to the tip – It’s as if they’ve never heard of charity shops, who would happily take many of the items that go in the big bins, either that or they can’t lower themselves to give their stuff to a charity. Often items just need cleaning or a basic repair – I once saw a perfectly good, solid, bench vice being thrown away which could have been cleaned, painted and oiled and be back being used on a workbench but it was going to be skipped and was then “rescued” and turned into a wall lamp, which is another subject altogether.
Of course there are other outlets for unwanted items – Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook, friends or family – but maybe it’s all too much effort, far easier to take them to the tip. Besides selling items yourself or via charity shops, old tools like the vice above could be donated to local projects, there is one near here that does free bike repairs while teaching youths useful skills in the process. Old furniture can be provided at low cost to those in need by organisations like The Furniture Project whom I have donated many pieces, including two good sofas (the second of which wouldn’t fit into my current house, I wish I’d kept the first, smaller, one now though – I might have got it up the stairs.) Organisations like these will collect the items free of charge, at a time that suits you and you get to know that someone will be helped, that someone will appreciate what you no longer want or need.
It’s currently fashionable to “upcycle” things into some trendy “authentic” or “quirky” lamp or piece of “shabby-chic” furniture, usually to sell for a stupid price, but how about we think about the “reuse” option a bit more, which is a bit “greener” too, isn’t it.