Cae Post is proud of its 30 year history in developing innovative recycling projects, but with billions of tonnes of material being extracted from the earth each year to make ‘stuff’, we think it’s as important to reuse items as it is to recycle them.
Reusing an item that still works is much more energy efficient than breaking it down into its component parts and turning it into something different. In the past, reuse was possibly the main way that things were recycled. We can probably all remember being ‘handed down’ items from an older brother or sister, or furnishing your first home with furniture from parents, friends or neighbours.
More recently though, consumers have become a bit more concerned about having the latest fashion, the best and newest home furnishings or most ‘on-trend’ colour schemes, all of which result in perfectly good items becoming ‘surplus to requirements’.
Many people donate these items to charity shops or other reuse organisations, but a significant number of people rely on their local council to dispose of items at the local household waste facility. Increasingly, local authorities are partnering with reuse organisations to extract usable products from the waste stream and sell them, which benefits the environment and the charity or social business which sells them. Valuable as this service is, it has the big draw back that items still need to be taken to a household waste and recycling centre in the first place.
With the slogan ‘Don’t throw it away, give it away!’, Freegle is an online service which brings individuals together to find items and give items to one another.
The Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery Freegle group was started in 2006, fully joining Freegle when it was formed in 2009. According to Saira, one of the many volunteers who keep the online service running, Freegle is all about keeping usable stuff out of landfill. “We felt it was a complete waste of resources that many things which still had a usable life were taken to the tip. Many household items are given away each year on Freegle such as sofas, fridges, caravans, gardening equipment, TVs and beds.”
All of these items can be reused, but would probably have entered the waste stream. There are currently just over 4,000 local members successfully ‘freegling’. On average the Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery group keeps around 500kg of ‘stuff’ out of the waste stream each month.
Recently, one Freegler rehomed an entire collection of those “really important” kitchen gadgets that people often buy and then never use: waffle maker, electric steamer, electric juicer, kitchen mixer, ice cream maker.
The group also regularly sees sofas, washing machines, beds, wardrobes, printers and microwaves, as well as horse manure, scaffolding boards and pallets changing hands, as people upgrade to new models, downsize and declutter their homes or see the benefit in giving away something they have.
Cae Post believes that as consumers we should all think seriously about what we buy and, just as importantly, what we do with things we no longer need.
We see this as getting back to our roots! Years ago, families and the wider communities they lived in used to regularly rehome their things when they no longer needed them. As families have become less nuclear, and lifestyles have often become more insular, Freegle is a way of rebuilding those integral mainstays of community as well as encouraging people to repair and reuse ahead of recycling or sending their things to the waste stream.
Why not sign up for Freegle and see what you find or find a new home for? The Welshpool, Newtown and Montgomery group can be found easily here: http://freegle.in/WNM