Don't throw it away; reuse it!
A few weeks ago I visited the re-use charity Furnish and was really struck by the holistic nature of its work.
By taking unwanted furniture and appliances, generally from the public but also from other providers, this innovative project not only diverts these materials away from landfill but also sells them at affordable prices to local residents, many of whom are greatly in need.
This has the double whammy effect of supporting deprived communities and also protecting the environment. I’ve been told that the carbon offset for the re-use of furniture and electrical appliances is 5 tonnes of Co2 per tonne of furniture re-used.
If that isn’t enough of a selling point for reuse, then the project also offers much needed work experience to volunteers, some of whom have been long-term unemployed. Some of these individuals have since taken on paid, full-time posts, giving hope to those who thought they’d never gain employment again.
The charity also does a lot of fit-out work, providing furniture for social housing landlords who operate temporary accommodation for people who have been made homeless.
What I find really inspiring about projects like Furnish is that they engage a multitude of sectors, in this case waste management, social services and housing.
Often when I attend waste and recycling events, I come away feeling that the sector is incredibly silo in its mentality.
Personally, I think there are real opportunities out there to achieve bigger gains than simply diverting waste from landfill or turning waste into a resource such as AD.
We need much more joined-up thinking and working across the economy as a whole. In other words, we need to come up with holistic solutions to the wider problems facing the nation.