You might be as shocked as I was to learn that a recent Origin survey found that Brits throw away over £41,000 worth of broken or unwanted household items in their lifetime!
And skimping on quality is costing us a small fortune, with the average respondent chucking out almost £700 worth of household items every year.
So how do we stop ourselves from becoming part of this throwaway culture?
Here’s five ideas to give you a helping hand…
1. Don't buy cheap
We’ve all heard the expression ‘Buy cheap, pay twice’, but this really does apply to certain household items – even when you get right down to household basics such as loo roll!
For example, you might buy the cheap 2-ply loo roll which you think is saving you money, but you’ll often find yourself getting through it twice as fast, meaning you’ll have to buy it again sooner than you had hoped.
It’s also increasingly rare to find products that will stand the test of time (ever heard the saying ‘they don't make 'em like they used to'?), plus the expectations of product life spans are dropping.
And that's why it's crucially important to do as much research as you can before you buy: read the reviews, compare prices and make a note of all the functions and what you (and your lifestyle) needs from a new purchase.
2. Learn to upcycle
You’re only limited by your imagination on what you can ‘repurpose’ your old, unused items into, but if you need some inspiration try scanning Pinterest, Interior magazines and Instagram pictures.
And think of all the bragging rights you'll have when friends and family clock your crafting skills!
3. ‘One man’s trash….'
….Is another man’s treasure’ as the saying goes. So if you really can’t stand that old teapot that you inherited from Aunt Grace all those years ago, at least try and make some money out of it first.
There are plenty of sites – eBay and ‘Preloved’ being just a couple of options, along with local community groups on Facebook, apps such as ‘Streetlife’ and ‘Shpoch’ and sites such as Freecycle.
4. Swap it up
Years ago I experimented with hosting a ’swap’ party with several friends. Everyone was invited to bring old clothes, accessories, shoes, handbags, jewellery and make-up that they no longer wanted, and we swapped items with each other for things that, well….took our fancy!
It ended up being a huge success and what was nice was that anything left over went to the charity shop, so we ended up with the ‘feel-good’ factor as well.
So rather than just chuck things out, try giving your friends a call and seeing if they’d be up for a swap party. You’ll find most of them will be thrilled at the prospect at getting something for free and getting rid of what they don’t want in the process – as well as having a good old chinwag and a cuppa!
5. Donate it!
It’s nice to do your bit for charity, so rather than chuck out that old toaster just because you don’t like the look of it anymore, think about others who are perhaps in a less fortunate position that yourself – and who would appreciate it instead.
Having a clear out is therapeutic, but it’s also a nice feeling being able to give to others.
Be careful though – if it’s electrical items you are looking to get rid of then check that the charity shop accepts them as many don’t.
If not, try offering it as a giveaway on Freecycle or see if your local village hall or school would like it instead.
What tips do you have for cutting down on waste?
How long Brits think items should last (years)
- Car – 11.23
- Over/Cooker – 10.32
- Stereo system – 10.27
- Freezer – 9.95
- Fridge – 9.76
- Garden equipment – 8.8
- TV – 8.72
- Mattress – 8.68
- Tumble dryer – 8.4
- Washing machines – 8.2
- Microwave – 8.13
- Dishwasher – 8.09
- Garden mower – 8.09
- DVD player – 7.99
- Kitchen equipment – 7.95
- Hedge trimmer – 7.89
- Food processor – 7.86
- Vacuum cleaner – 7.89
- Coffee maker – 7.13
- Iron – 7.04