WEEE and furniture

Freegle 2_office_chair_E4Welcome to day 4 of Zero Waste Week.

Today we’re focusing on WEEE and furniture reuse, and I’m delighted to welcome Cat Fletcher as guest blogger.

Cat is a waste activist who sources and matches up tonnes of unwanted goods and materials with people who can reuse them. A founder of UK’s Freegle reuse network she also manages the Brighton Freegle group.

Cat sourced most of the materials as part of Design Team for award winning Brighton Waste House at the University of Brighton – it’s 90% constructed with ‘waste’. She is currently the only Reuse Manager for a UK local authority and is ensuring that the city reuses resources wherever possible through innovative, collaborative and creative projects.

Now, over to Cat to tell us more about Freegle and how it can help you rehome your unwanted furniture!

What is Freegle?

It’s a network of 407 locally-run online re-use groups. They are free to join, free to use and everything listed on Freegle must be given away for free. It’s like a dating site for unloved stuff! That doesn’t mean everything is tatty though – oh no! Our members give away things because they do not need or want them anymore but most freegled goods still have a lot of life left in them, some are even new and when they are not perfect then they make great fodder to be re-purposed creatively. About 20% of everything freegled is furniture, see this pie chart of what’s been recently been re-used via our groups https://directv2.ilovefreegle.org/plugins/weightchart We process about half a million emails per day and all that lovely individual virtual activity means that up to 1,000 tonnes of goods (incl. 200 tonnes of furniture) gets re-used every month. Amazing huh?! Over the past 6 years we have inspired over 2.3million Brits to start freegling. If you haven’t used our service yet then Zero Waste Week is a good week to join your local group! https://www.ilovefreegle.org/groups/

We try to make it as easy peasy as possible! We even have a fab new mobile app so it is a breeze to list things when you are clearing the attic, helping friends declutter or sorting out the garage. Download the app for free so you can join and then use your local Freegle group while on the go! https://www.ilovefreegle.org/mobile/

Freegle 3_piano_N16

Why Freegle furniture?

There are so many benefits to re-use, but for Freegle members it is especially handy for those items you cannot transport yourself to an alternative location (charity shop, tip, boot market…), for items that your local charity does not accept, and also for getting that warm fuzzy feeling knowing you can directly help someone local by passing on the unwanted item and all without leaving home. Of course it is also a fantastic resource if you are strapped for cash and need things around the house you cannot afford to buy. Join and see what is being given away local to you.

Wrap estimates that 1.59 million tonnes of bulky goods (furniture, textiles and electrical items) end up in the waste stream in the UK every year (2010/11 data).

Of all that bulky waste about 42% is furniture – so that’s about 670,000 tonnes (670,000,000 Kgs). The average weight of a 2 seater sofa is 37kgs – so if we imagine that all furniture thrown away is a 2 seater sofa then we are discarding the equivalent of 18+ million sofas a year!

It gets worse.

Wrap also estimate that 80% of sofas are re-usable given the right conditions on site, e.g. protecting and storing items to prevent damage, and provision of repair facilities. These ‘right conditions’ are not in place at a lot of UK tips so most discarded sofas get unnecessarily burnt or buried….


So don’t be a tosser and next time you have unwanted furniture that you don’t need to sell or that you cannot get to a charity shop – make sure you freegle it rather than going to the tip with it – where re-use is a very hit and miss affair! Don’t throw it away. Give it away.

*Wrap is the Waste and Resource Action Programme https://www.wrap.org.uk/ formally a govt dept and now a charity sitting alongside Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). It gathers data and evidence, and supports projects to accelerate resourcefulness and reduce waste.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Freegle

Twitter: @ThisIsFreegle https://twitter.com/thisisfreegle

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/freegleuk/

More about Cat: https://freegle.it/CatFletcherReUseCV

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Rachelle Strauss

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