Waste not! It’s wanted elsewhere…

I recently wrote a feature for The Daily Express (see cutting below) on how our trash really could be someone else’s treasure.

From a glut of fruit to old furniture – someone out there will want what you don’t. And as we’re all tidying up and decluttering during lockdown, I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of the article with you below.

So, stop littering landfill with your unwanted stuff, and give it a new lease of life!


Don’t even think about binning your gently-worn bras that may not fit any more. Charities such as againstbreastcancer.org.uk receive cash for bras they collect and recycle, and smallsforall.org, a Scottish charity, sends undies overseas to charitable organisations working on projects in African orphanages, schools or deprived areas, as well as to charities in the UK that focus on alleviating poverty.


RSPCA wildlife and animal centres use tonnes of towels and face cloths every year to clean and dry rescued animals  – or as bedding and for lining boxes. Phone your local centre (you can find locations at rspca.org.uk) to see what they’re accepting and how to donate.


Some charities and homeless organisations welcome donations of clean bedding in good condition – including sheets, pillows, duvets and duvet covers. Do ring to check beforehand, though, as some only accept duvets and pillows that are new.


Last year alone, the British Heart Foundation saved over 74,000 tonnes of items from landfill, which helped prevent 53,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from being released into the atmosphere! This included an incredible 180,000 sofas. As well as suites and sofas (which must have fire labels attached), their specialist Furniture & Electrical stores also accept good quality items like beds, tables and cabinets plus TVs, Hi-Fis and washing machines in working order. Go online (bhf.org.uk) to arrange a home collection free of charge.


If you’ve got new or barely worn business suits or smart clothing suitable for an interview that don’t work for you any more, then help someone else onto the ladder of success by donating your togs to organisations such as smartworks.org.uk, suitedbootedcentre.org.uk and suitedforsuccess.co.uk. They kit out people who can’t afford good quality work attire, helping them find and fit the perfect outfit for an upcoming job interview and making them look and feel confident for their big day.


According to the Olio app – a platform that allows you to give away good food rather than let it languish in landfill – a staggering third of all food produced globally is thrown away. Closer to home, the average family in the UK bins a wasteful 22% of their weekly food shop. If you’ve cooked too much tagine, have a glut of apples or courgettes from your allotment up for grabs or have bought fresh produce you just won’t be able to use in time, simply post a picture of what grub you’ve got to giveaway to the app (olioex.com) and local people who are interested in taking it off your hands will get in touch to collect it.


Bringing up a baby is an expensive business these days. There’s so much paraphernalia to buy! So if you have any items your little ones have outgrown (we know that some tots only tote an outfit a couple of times before it’s a tight fit!) then the Baby Bank Network (babybanknetwork.com) will redistribute everything from pre-loved baby clothes to breast pumps, prams to pushchairs, change mats to monitors, baby baths to bouncer chairs – to families that can’t afford to buy them. They work with children’s centres, health visitors and other organisations to identify those in need. If you’re not in any of the areas that the Baby Bank Network operate in, their website features a map of similar services all over the country. You could also head off to the Youngplanet app (youngplanet.com) to give away outgrown toys, games, bikes and more in the London area.


According to shoeaid.co.uk, a shameful 2 million shoes are thrown into landfill every week and 4 million children in the UK wear ill-fitting shoes. Your unwanted shoes can find new feet elsewhere  – look out for Shoe Aid shoe bins in Russell & Bromley stores and other locations nationwide (see website) to donate – and your shoes will be redistributed to adults and children living below the poverty line as well as to homeless people. The charity Sal’s Shoes (salsshoes.com) also sends outgrown (but not outworn) children’s shoes all over the world to those in need and over 500 Clarks stores nationwide have ShoeShare drop off points where you can donate old shoes which raise money for UNICEF.


Statistics show that 1.2 billion people worldwide can’t see properly because they need glasses and that 12 million children struggle to learn because of poor eyesight. Step in your old, unwanted spectacles. Donate them to the charity Vision Aid Overseas and they’ll either recycle them or sell them on to raise money to provide affordable eyecare for poor communities worldwide. Hundreds of opticians nationwide will accept your glasses for recycling – go to visionaidoverseas.org to find your nearest drop-off point – or you can request a recycling pack to post on your glasses.


Head over to the Toiletries Amnesty website (toiletriesamnesty.org) to search for local homeless shelters and hostels, women’s and children’s refuges, mental health services, food banks, and other organisations that need donations of toiletries to alleviate hygiene poverty. The website’s directory shows what the organisations do, where they are, what they accept and how to donate. There’s also a facility to whittle down the selection to a list of those that accept ‘partially used’ products – so if you’ve had just one squirt of shower gel, a spritz of perfume or a splodge of shampoo and decided the product wasn’t for you, then you can donate it, rather than ditch it.


If you have a once-worn prom-dress lingering in the back of your wardrobe, be a real Fairy Godmother and donate it to a Cinderella-in-need. Promally.co.uk offers the free loan of prom dresses (as well as suits for the boys) to school children, sixth form and college students all over the country who would struggle to afford to buy an outfit for their big night out.


This is a real eye-opener! The Appalachian Wildlife Refuge in the USA (appalachianwild.org) runs a ‘Wands for Wildlife’ campaign, asking for donations of old mascara wands twice a year (in February and October). They use the wands to groom and remove mites and dust from the fur and feathers of rescued wild animals – how cute. Call up your local wildlife or hedgehog rescue centre to see if they’re accepting donations, too. Wash your wands in warm, soapy water before sending on.


Playing video games provides respite, entertainment and – studies stay – effective pain management for children and young people during long hospital stays. Get Well Gamers UK is a charity that takes donated video games and consoles to hospitals, hospices and anywhere else gaming can provide a power up! Visit getwellgamers.org.uk to input online what you can donate – include your postcode and they will check if there are any volunteers nearby who can arrange a pick-up.

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