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Recycling your unwanted items can help Stevenage reach net zero

After all the time we’ve all spent living and working at home over the past two years, you may have had a declutter of your home, shed and garage.

As we look to cut our carbon emissions, a good starting point is to re-home your unwanted goods where they can have a new lease of life, even if they are broken or damaged in some cases.

In the past decade, some environmentalists suggest we have arrived at a point of “peak stuff”; a situation exacerbated by the phenomenon of built-in obsolescence and constant upgrade cycles. Yet this often means that many goods we may no longer want are still functional.

All too often, this has meant these functional goods, clothes and other materials have gone to landfill or to be shipped abroad in less than ethical circumstances. The price on our environment in terms of embedded emissions of manufacturing, transport and disposal is colossal. Even after these goods are long gone, their toxic legacy will continue to have a detrimental effect for years to come.

Did you know that you can now turn to volunteer-run online communities to repair or rehome goods that would otherwise go to landfill, rather than head to the shops or buying online? In some cases, these are often better options for overall sustainability as a charity would be unlikely to repair something damaged or broken.

Councillor John Gardner, Executive member for Environment and Regeneration at Stevenage Borough Council said:

“The goods we buy make up a big chunk of the average person’s carbon footprint, because of the emissions caused by making and transporting the products to us.”

“Finding a new home for things you don’t need, looking for goods second hand instead of buying new ones, re-using and repairing things are all great ways to play your part in tackling climate change and will play a part in our longer term strategy of getting to net zero by 2030.”

Some of the services are also now evolving so that people can loan items instead of giving them away. The average electric drill as an example is used only for 15 minutes of its lifetime, so it makes sense for households to borrow instead of having one each.

Charity shops also have a part to play and there are a number in Stevenage. These are good places to offer your books, CDs, DVDs, games, clothes and homewares in good condition.

It is also worth taking time to research the organisation to which you’re donating to. A number of car park donation boxes are run by for-profit companies and some have little-to-no available information on who’s behind them and where exactly the items go.

Free sources: where to recycle unwanted goods:

Spruse - Stevenage Reuse Scheme: A used furniture recycling charity in Broadwell.

Freecycle: As its name suggests, it’s all for free and you can post items you’re looking for, too.

Freegle: Similar to Freecycle, a volunteer-run online organisation where you put in your location and see what is being offered locally.

Facebook Marketplace: Pick up everything from wardrobe to clothes.

Olio: What started as an app to share food has moved into offering other goods for free.

Nextdoor: A community app where you can swap and source goods for free from neighbours, as well as buy things.

Trash Nothing: Another website and app with people giving away unwanted products to others living in their community.