Give and Take days in your local area

July 12, 2007 at 2:38 am

According to Waste Not Want Not, Government Strategy Unit Report, November 2002, each household in London alone produces over a tonne of waste per year and nearly 80% of municipal waste in England is sent to landfill sites, comparing poorly with the rest of Western Europe. Many people dislike throwing away unwanted items but are unsure how to recycle. There are many schemes available to help, some of the most popular being schemes such as Freecycle. The only downside is that these schemes rely upon people being comfortable with using the internet. Whilst recycling via the internet has obvious advantages, not everyone has a computer at home.

For those who do not have internet access, Give and Take days seem to be the best alternative. This idea originated in Germany where a certain day each month is designated for the collection of unwanted furniture. Unwanted items are placed outside and anyone can take what they want. The idea of a Give and Take day is simple: a space such as a hall is hired for a day and people are encouraged to bring along items which they no longer need (apart from clothes which can of course always be taken to a local charity shop) and anyone can turn up and pick up items which they do need, free of charge. Any leftover items will usually be given to local charities. You can find anything you need here, from tables to televisions, and the organisers can even arrange transport for heavy items. Give and Take days not only provide a unique opportunity to cut down drastically on waste but can also be a fun day out for the whole family.

Richmond upon Thames council provides one example of just how successful these days can be. They started Give and Take days in September 2006 and on one day alone, attracted 500 people and nearly 4000 items. Overall, just under 8 tonnes of waste was diverted from landfill. Furthermore, some councils use the day to educate the public about wider issues of waste minimisation and recycling. Give and Take days in Wandsworth provide free information about sustainable living and especially target young children in an accessible and fun way.

The Women’s Environmental Network provides a ‘toolkit’ for organising Give and Take days, which is free to download from the internet. It provides everything you need, from information concerning budgets to flyers.

Many councils, particularly in London, offer this service, including:

  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Waltham Forest
  • Bexley
  • Southwark
  • Hounslow
  • Ealing
  • Camden
  • Islington
  • Enfield

If you would like to find out whether your council offers Give and Take days, you should contact the Waste and Recycling officer (sometimes called the Community Recycling officer) at your local council offices. If they don’t and you are interested in lobbying them to do so, you should contact your <a href=" local councillor and ask them to use their influence in instigating the scheme. Alternatively, there may be a council recycling committee which may be able to help.

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