Those of us of a certain age will remember the annual Blue Peter appeals for silver milk bottle tops, raising cash for charities.
Well, nowadays there's tonnes of ingenious ways to donate your unwanted items, help support a good cause and divert those items from going into landfill. We all know that you can donate items to charity shops, but some items aren't suitable for re-sale through these types of outlets and would ultimately end up in their refuse, actually costing them money.
To celebrate Zero Waste Week, I've rounded up a few suggestions for you, but please feel free to share links or add more ideas in the comments below.
Many of us wouldn't consider donating underwear to a charity shop (even though many do sell gently worn bras - I don't know of any that re-sell worn knickers though).
There are several organisations that accept both new, (we've all got some lurking in the back of the drawer from when we bought the wrong size!) or lightly worn bras.
If you're in the UK, you can donate to Smalls for All who donate gently worn bras, and new donated pants to women and children in Africa who need it most. Lack of underwear is only is it a health and hygiene problem for many poor African communities, as women often only own one pair of tattered pants or have none at all, but underwear is also seen as a status symbol and offers a degree of security. Women who can afford underwear tend to be seen as having someone who cares for them – a husband, brother or father. They are not on their own so they are not seen as vulnerable.
If you're in the US you can donate them to Free The Girls who provide an opportunity for sex trafficking survivors to build their own business selling second-hand clothing while going to school, establishing a house, and caring for their families.
|Image credit: Free the Girls|
TINS OF PAINT
Finished the decorating and have paint leftover? Perhaps you're clearing out the shed or garage and wondering what to do with your opened pots of paint. It can be incredibly toxic so shouldn't be thrown out with your household waste. Many local councils will accept it at the tidy tips, but why not donate it to Community Repaint?
Community RePaint collects reusable, leftover paint from both households and those in the trade and re-distribute it to individuals, families, communities and charities in need, improving the wellbeing of people and the appearance of places across the UK. There are over 80 schemes around the country, and if there's not one near you there's a free letter template for you to suggest one to your local council.
A few crafty folk might turn them into other arty items, but most of us will put these in the recycling bin once we've finished reading them. Why not contact your local surgery, dentist or hospital to see if they'd like them for their waiting rooms. You could make a lot of anxious people feel more comfortable with a nice magazine to flick through and you'd extend the use of the mags for a bit longer.
GLASSES AND SPECTACLES
|Image Credit: Vision Aid Overseas|
Vision Aid Overseas is the main charity collecting old glasses. Some are re-used - vintage and retro glasses are sold to specialist shops, while others are recycled to raise funds for their eye care programs in developing countries. Most opticians have donation bins.
WALKING BOOTS AND OUTDOOR GEAR
If you've splashed out on new boots and waterproofs this year, you can donate your old ones to Gift Your Gear, an independent UK initiative who provide outdoor clothing and equipment to UK community organisations, youth groups and charities working with young people in the outdoors. They have 57 drop-off points throughout the UK or you can send by post. They accept clean, reusable (without needing repair) boots, waterproofs, fleeces, kids outdoor clothing, hats and scarves.
They do not accept socks, tents, cooking equipments, pots and pans, rucksacks and sleeping bags. Of course, those collecting for the refugee crisis are currently in need of these items and you can find your local Calaid collection point online to donate these types of items as well as warm men's clothing, sturdy shoes and waterproofs. Storage is short, so keep an eye on the current list of what's needed.
|Image credit: Calaid|
Some school PTAs host second-hand sales of uniform - check with your school. I have found that our school welcomed donations of underwear, socks, tights and dresses/trousers for younger aged children. They keep a small stock of clean clothes for any little accidents that happen in school.
Many towns have organisations who run toy libraries, loaning out toys to families and carers. They welcome donations of clean, good quality toys, children's books and puzzles. Check online to find your nearest one.
According to a recent survey by Which, the average household has 39 plastic plant pots languishing in their sheds and greenhouses, yet they can't be recycled with the normal waste. You could donate to community garden schemes such as Octopus Communities in North London or local schools instead.
|Image credit: Which|
OLD BLANKETS AND TOWELS
Animal shelter and rescue charities are always grateful for old blankets and towels. They may not be good enough for the charity shop, but they can be used as animal bedding.
USED PRINTER CARTRIDGES
Many, many charities and fundraising groups now collect used toner and ink cartridges to raise money for their organisations. From large, international household names, to local schools and playgroups. Check online to see if your favourite charity recycles them, and often you can apply for freepost envelopes to send them off to. The cartridges are refilled and reused.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to rethink your 'rubbish'. See what you can donate to be re-sued and help out a good cause. Do you have any other suggestions?
Check out what the other Zero Waste Ambassadors have been up to as well.
The Rubbish Diet finds a greener way to join in with GBBO
Westy Writes takes on disposable coffee cups
Can't Swing A Cat takes a long hard look at herself and asks if she's green enough
Make Do and Mend has a fab tutorial on how to make fabric shopping bags