Thursday, 25 June 2009

It’s Recycle Week – June 22nd – June 28th 2009

This week is National Recycle Week in the UK and it’s your chance to take a pledge online to change your recycling habits. It is an annual event to kick-start new habits that can help us all to all waste less and recycle more.

This year's theme for Recycle Week is 'let's waste less...' encouraging all of us to try something new in an effort to go greener and cut back on the waste we all produce. From recycling more of everyday items like glass and plastic bottles to reusing carrier bags or composting at home, there are lots of opportunities to promote how we can all reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

Make it and Mend it are delighted that the UK are doing so much to embrace recycling, but we want to see this go further. This week we want to ask you do a little lateral thinking before you make your pledge. What can you do that will save you having to send an item for recycling?

WRAP outline three primary targets
• Sending less to landfill
• Reducing carbon emissions
• Increasing economic impact

Which are all good ideas, but we feel that the current recycling guidelines are missing a trick. As it stands suggest that we do the following:
• Donate left-over paint to your local charity. To find your nearest scheme visit
• “Your rubbish is another person’s treasure!” - Contact your local Furniture Re-use Network - they distribute unwanted furniture and household goods to those in need. Or advertise your old furniture using websites like or /
• Avoid food waste - About one third of the food we buy gets thrown away and most of this could have been eaten. To find out useful tips on the storage of food, tantalising recipes and advice on portioning, visit

All these are great points and we wholeheartedly support them as a last resort, but they are about giving your waste to other people to deal with. Where is the encouragement to think twice before you discard something that is old, tired or broken?

This week Make it and Mend it asks you to think when you are making your pledges about how you can reuse these items before you discard them. Before you throw anything away ask yourself some basic questions:
  • Would a coat of paint liven it up and give it a new lease of life?
  • Could you find a spare part online to fix that broken item?
  • Could that item have a new life as something different?
  • Would a set of new buttons or a stitch here and there give life to an old garment?
  • Could I use it in the garden?
Here's an example from Clare F. A couple of weeks ago she had to dispose of an ugly old reproduction pine side table of her mother's. Instead of getting rid of it, she sanded it, primed it and and gave it a couple of coats of paint, using a spare mini sample can that she had left from painting her front door. Now it has a new lease of life as a potting table in the garden.

So when you are throwing things out, spend a few minutes thinking about all the possible alternative uses it might have and see if you can prolong the life of your possessions.

Pledge now to bring back the old style skills that we are rapidly losing and a return to the Make it and Mend it culture. To make your pledge go to Recycle Now

Related Links
The following links will give you more information and inspiration about ways to reuse and recycle your unwanted items:

Recycled Fashion - from vintage fashion to revamping your wardrobe you'll find loads of inspiration here:
Refashion, defashion, upfashion, downfashion - there's no limits!
10 Ways to update your wardrobe without spending a fortune
Bags from old tyres and Debenhams' suit made from plastic bottles
Checking out the Vintage Fashion Fair
Shoes made from London Underground seats
Charity fashion show of restyled clothes
Recycled dress for breast cancer
How to knit with recycled plastic carrier bags
Charity shop clothes on the Oscar's red carpet
Hairy legwarmers made from an old jacket

Ideas and tips - ways to make new things out of old from beds to plastic bags:
Weird and wonderful green plant food

Skip surfing for beginners
Fabulous candle holders from old plastic planters
Rescuing wooden chairs
Turning fence posts into candle sticks
Lessons for our Mothers - Making sandals from old stockings
Get creative with your containers
Old beds into bowers - how to turn unwanted beds into fantastic garden furniture
Top 10 Ideas for Inspired Recycling at Home
How to make fused plastic out of old carrier bags
New life for old sofas
Re-using tin foil to clean your silver
Taking inspiration from the 3rd World

Creative inspiration - how artists and sculptors have used materials that might otherwise have been thrown away to create some fascinating new pieces:

Tim Gentry’s “Pleasure Spheres” and Paul Matosic’s “Landfill
Photography - seeing beauty in industrial waste
MEND - an exhibition in New York using recycled materials
Sculpture from living trees
Art from toilet rolls
Art from the floor-sweepings of China's factories
Sculpture from old shopping trolleys
The Knitted Brain
A Buddhist temple from old beer bottles

…And if all else fails and you really can’t salvage it

Advice on Recycling –

Recycling Nirvana
Top Tips from Which? magazine to ensure your recycling actually gets recycled
Third World Wisdom - what we can learn from others
Start a fixers' collective - a Brooklyn scheme sets a great example
Go to work on an egg - why eggs are highly useful materials for inspired recycling
Tips for sorting recycling
A new lexicon for recycling
Visit the new recycling centre in our store
Help charity by using Jumble Aid
Reduce landfill -try out Virtual Skips

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