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  • Jo Hall

Don't Let It Go To Waste!

So you've decluttered, what next? - what do you do with your decluttered items.

What's the problem?

According to the Department for Environment 26,897 tonnes of household waste was collected/dumped in the UK in 2017, of which less than half was recycled.

Currently £12.5 billion pounds worth of clothes end up in landfill each year in the UK.

What are the options?

Re purposing - do you have things in your house that you would like to keep (maybe for sentimental reasons), but that you don't love them as they are, or where they are? Think about using these items elsewhere in your house and perhaps for a different purpose. I have a basketwork and metal doll's high chair, it was bought when we lived in Naples in the 1970's and is of sentimental value as it reminds me of that time. However it's a bit bulky to store and I don't want to give display space to it in my house. I've repurposed it as I flowerpot holder on my patio. It works perfectly, it's unusual and I see it everyday instead of it being stuck out of the way in storage somewhere.

I inherited a pair of Parker Knoll chairs from my parents, the green fabric wasn't really to our taste so we had them re upholstered by Gaff in a grey felt fabric and now we love them!

Older furniture is so worth re upholstering, revarnishing or even painting/spaying, as it's often far better made than furniture available to buy now (and the trees have already been felled!).

Local resources for re purposing items include Transformed Treasures (upholstery service) Alistair Price Antiques (specialist furniture restorers) and Oo Arh, (upcycling clothes and reusing fabric).

Selling - generate some cash from your clutter! There are many outlets these days for selling unwanted items, both on and off line.

For high value items and antiques contact your local auction houses and dealers or sell on eBay.

For specialist dealers try searching, by product or type of product, online.

As "curator of our family stamp collection" I found an amazing stamp valuer and dealer, Gustamps in Brighton. The owner is a true enthusiast, keen to pass on his passion and knowledge to the next generation.

If you're local to Reading, Secret Treasures is an online thrift shop, where items are given a new lease of life and sold on. For readers local to Maidenhead, Diana's Wardrobe takes high quality and branded clothes and shoes and resells them from her home and at local pop up shops and events.

Many high street shops are now collecting used clothes in exchange for vouchers.

"Considered Rehoming"/Donating - what I mean by "considered re homing", is taking the time to find absolutely the right "new home" for an item or items, (usually with high sentimental value). Apart from donating to charity shops and listing on Freecycle,or Facebook selling groups, there are many more specific options.

Do you have kids that struggle to part with much loved toys & games long after these outgrown them (I know that scenario, I blame it on watching Toy Story too many times!), how about telling them about this amazing charity? Donate to The Toy Project and your child can fill in a "re homing form" to accompany a beloved teddy.

If you have sports equipment you no longer need, search for a specific charity which would welcome the donation. Growing up I had my own horse and had kept various bits of horse equipment for years, thinking (hoping) that I might use it again in the future.

One day whilst browsing online, I came across Ebony Horse Club which gives riding opportunities to young people living in South London's most disadvantaged communities. Instantly I knew that I wanted this place to benefit from my unused items, I packed them up in my car and delivered them to the stables in Brixton, where they were gratefully received.

School libraries/music departments are often happy to take donations of books, musical instruments and sheet music. Many GP surgeries collect reading glasses no longer required and pass them on to people in poorer countries. Local homeless charities and pet rescue centres are usually happy to take towels and bedding off your hands.

New or barely used toiletries & make up are collected by Give & Make Up for use at Refuge and Women's Aid.

It's time to bin your bra! - bras you no longer wear could be helping to support small business in Africa.

Did you know that you can even donate flowers after an event and have them re delivered to hospices and care homes by Floral Angels, what a fabulous idea!

Recycling - these days we need to be recycling much more than paper and (some) plastics. Many councils (including the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead) now collect bags of worn out textiles to be recylcled, so check the website of the council in your local area.

The Alzheimers Society are collecting and recycling old jewellery (including broken pieces) as well as many other "difficult to dispose of" items such as foreign coins and old film.

For more ideas on all things re purposing and recycling, have a look at My Zero Waste, Love Your Clothes and Wrap.

Recycle Now allows you to search for recycling options by postcode.

Reducing waste requires a change in mindset. It takes a bit more effort, but involve the whole family and imagine how good it will feel. Knowing that all your clutter has gone somewhere where it will do good and be appreciated by others, is surely preferable to dumping bin bags at the tip and passing the problems on to someone else, or (the worse and more likely option), it all ending up in landfill?

Please note that this article is UK specific and some of the organisations listed are specific to Maidenhead, Berkshire.

For information on schemes in your area, do search by item on the internet as there are some amazing and creative re purposing and recycling schemes everywhere, with many more springing up everyday.

For help with decluttering & organising your home: Less Is More

For decluttering & organising ideas and inspiration:

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