Here has country life, we know the crucial importance of recycling. But, beyond what the council can pick up at local curbside collections, it can be confusing to figure out how to recycle items like clothing, furniture, electronics and cosmetics. To help you, we have prepared an overview of recycling.
To note: When it comes to making more sustainable choices, reduction must always come before recycling. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It is important to reduce the amount we consume and to consider, when buying something new, if/why we need it, where it comes from and how it is made. As consumers, we need to make more considered decisions when it comes to what we buy.
First, here’s a quick breakdown of the trash…
Fashion – According to WRAP, around £140 million (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing ends up in landfills in the UK every year. In addition, a staggering £30billion worth of unused clothing sits in our wardrobes nationwide as we speak, unworn.
Beauty – Beauty waste represents more than 120 billion packaging units, according to Zero waste week.
Technology – In technology, the Royal Society of Chemistry says there are 40 million unused gadgets in our homes, with 45% of us storing up to five unused devices.
Furniture – 22 million pieces of furniture are thrown away every year in the UK, with the majority of that furniture going straight to landfill, according to a report by The North London Waste Authority.
The lesson for consumers?
Buy only what you really need and consider the durability credentials of that item and the company it is purchased from.
How to Recycle Household Items
With a wide disparity in the rules about what you can and can’t recycle, it’s easy to get lost among the wealth of information available – but there are some nationwide services you can use right now. For example, textile recycling bank, Recycle nowwill take your unnecessary clothes (in any condition) and reuse them. Terra cycleon the other hand, will accept all your used personal care and beauty items.
With a few simple exchanges, a bit of advanced planning, and essential recycling know-how, you can dispose of your items responsibly.
From unwanted clothing and beauty items to electronics and furniture, here’s our guide to recycling.
Items that are not suitable for passing on to someone else can be recycled and made into new items, such as chair and car seat upholstery, cleaning rags, and industrial blankets. Here are some places in the UK that recycle clothing that cannot be sold or given away.
Textile recycling banks
Many local councils offer free collections of clothing and textiles, so it is always worth checking local council websites.
Animal shelters often use old clothes, towels, and other old textiles for the animals in their care. They use them to clean, make beds and blankets, and help the shelter feel more like home for the animals.Here are some additional tips on what you can donate to an animal shelter.
Retailers that recycle clothes
H&M – Clothes retailer H&M has joined the zero waste mission. According to their website, you can donate textiles of any brand, in any state and they will take care of the rest. Depending on the state your clothes are in, they will become cleaning rags or insulators in their next life. (H&M offers a £5 voucher at checkout for purchases over £25 if you use their donation service.)
Levi’s – If you’re tired of your old jeans, bring them in a Levi’s store or Outlet where they can be redeemed for up to 20% off a brand new pair for purchase on the day. Stores have a recycling box where you can drop off any denim, of any brand. It could be used, for example, to isolate libraries, hospitals and schools or to repair other Levi’s.
john lewis – FashionCycle is a sustainability initiative exclusively for My John Lewis customers across the UK. If you take five used clothes to resell or recycle at a John Lewis store, they’ll give you £5 off your fashion or household goods purchase on the same day when you spend £20 or more. Most clothing items are accepted, including shirts, t-shirts, sweaters, dresses and some children’s clothing.
Shoes – If you have old shoes, Schuh can take them back for recycling, and offer a voucher in return. Nike also recycle old trainers, turning them into new performance kits and playgrounds. Request a bag online then drop it off in store or at DPD points. TK Maxx, MRS, H&M, Primark and Monki the stores all receive donations.
According to Recyclebank, you can compost some clothes that you can’t donate. However, this is exclusive to cotton and does not apply to synthetic fabrics or cotton with embellishments on it. When you compost, you turn these tissues into soil that can grow vegetables, fruits and other plants.
According Zero waste weekmore than 120 billion packaging units are produced worldwide each year by the cosmetics industry, contributing to the loss of 18 million acres of forest each year.
You can drop off your used personal care and beauty product packaging at public drop off points across the UK – find your local here. (All brands are accepted.) After the waste is recycled into raw material, it is sold to manufacturing companies who produce the final product and complete the recycling journey.
These end products may include outdoor furniture and decking, plastic shipping pallets, watering cans, storage containers and bins, tubing for construction applications, ground tiles, surface covers playground and sports fields, and much more.
Whatever the brand, whatever the condition, they will recycle your old hair straighteners, wands, clips or hair dryers for free.
Bring finished goods to their in-store recycling stations at any of the 1,000 Tesco, Superdrug, Boots or Sainsbury’s stores participating in the scheme.
Kiehl’s has relaunched its Recycle & Be Rewarded program in association with Terracycle, which encourages customers to bring their Kiehl’s empties to their local store and drop them off at new recycling stations. You can choose which charity you want to support for your recycling, with £1 for every kilo of packaging donated. They accept all Kiehl’s product packaging and all brands of body and skin care plastic packaging (body milks, face creams, serums, sunscreens, cleansers and mask care).
This program targets hard-to-recycle beauty, health and wellness products that cannot be recycled at home. This is usually because they are: too small (travel minis, samples, mascaras, etc.), made of composite materials (makeup palettes, cases, lipsticks, etc.), made of non-recyclable materials (tubes of toothpaste, lotion pumps, etc).
Council Special Collections
Organize a special collection for large waste. Most councils collect items like old sofas, fridges or washing machines for a fee.
Furniture that cannot be reused can often be recycled, especially wooden or metal items. Most furniture can be recycled at your local recycling center – use the recycling locator tool to find the nearest center if you live in London. If you cannot make it to your local centre, your council may be able to collect your furniture from your home.
Get rid of waste
If your phone is cracked, your laptop has died, or your Xbox is beyond repair, you can make money off your old electronics. In the right hands, used gadgets can often be refurbished or broken down into smaller components. These can be sold individually and reused in other electronic items or recycled into a whole new component. If your old electronic device isn’t worth refurbishing, there are companies that will help you get rid of it safely.
Find out where recycle your unnecessary electronics – including kettles, cameras, battery-operated toys, toasters, electric drills and cell phones.
Find your nearest battery recycling point here. When batteries end up in discharge, they release toxic chemicals into the environment.