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Plan ahead – reuse and recycle

All Areas > Environment > Save the Planet

Author: Hannah Gray, Posted: Tuesday, 24th March 2015, 08:00

As the weather warms up it’s traditionally time to treat your home to a good old-fashioned spring clean. The origins of the spring clean are unclear but in 19th Century America, before the advent of the vacuum cleaner, April was seen as a good month to tackle the dusting – warm enough to have all the windows open but not yet warm enough for insects to cause problems.

If you’re planning a spring clean this month you may find yourself with a collection of clutter to get rid of. A little planning may mean the difference between sending things to landfill and the much more environmentally friendly options of reusing or recycling.

If you’re willing to donate your items, charity shops are a great option for anything that’s in good usable condition. Some charity organisations will take and test electrical goods before reselling them, and some will even collect larger items such as furniture from your home. Stamps, old greetings cards, spectacles and bottle tops are also collected by some charity organisations, and schools often organise textile collections as a fundraiser.

There are a couple of local online reuse networks that you can join and give away (or find) items for free – simply post a description and people who are interested reply. This is a great way to re-home items in your local area – from half tins of paint to a collection of jam jars, a stack of egg boxes to an old TV.

Depending on what your item is you may like to make some money out of it by selling it online, in the local papers or even having a car boot sale. This is also a great way of finding a new home for items that are still fully functional.

Once you’ve reused as much as you can, the next stop is recycling. Use your box, bin or bag depending on where you live and don’t forget to make use of collection points in public car parks.

Larger items that are well past their best can be taken to one of the five Household Recycling Centres (HRCs) in the county. A defunct toaster, broken fence panels and old worn clothes can all be recycled into something new – metals extracted from your toaster are smelted and used to create more small electrical appliances, and old fence panels could become chipboard kitchen worktops.

As a nation we buy 2 million tonnes of clothing each year – 75% of which ends up in landfill, making textiles one of the fastest growing waste streams! Even the most tired clothing can be recycled and given a new lease of life – perhaps even as filling for vehicle seats.

Remember to sort items before you visit the HRC so that you can recycle quickly and easily on site.

For more information about waste prevention, reuse, recycling, composting and free waste education workshops for pupils, please visit


To find out more about the work of the Gloucestershire Environmental Education Partnership, please visit


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