Dear Recycling Bins: Our Monthly Recycling Advice Column
Welcome to our weekly advice column where we look at all things recycling and give you the answers you’re desperately seeking.
Dear Recycling Bins,
I want to give my home a bit of a revamp in the spring, and there’s a lot of things I want to get rid of to make way for some nice new things. At the moment, my old tatty carpets, worn out sofa, and furniture that has seen better days is kind of depressing me, but although I can’t wait to spruce everything up, I don’t want to create any unnecessary waste.
Please give some ideas or advice about what I can do with my old and unwanted items.
We all love a good revamp, and there’s something about brightening up the place after the darkness of winter, but you’re right, you can give your home a new lease of life for the spring without sending a load of waste to landfill. Here’s what you can do with your old and unwanted items.
When it comes to carpets, the good people at Carpet Recycling UK suggest:
- Donating it to charity if it’s in good condition.
- Checking with the place you bought it from to see if they have a take-back scheme.
- Taking it to a recycling centre or checking with the council to see if they offer a recycling service.
- Listing it on Freecycle and giving it a good home.
- Offering it to a local animal shelter-carpet can be useful to keep animals warm.
- It’s great for insulating soil and compost heaps, or to line a pond.
Chairs and sofas
- Most furniture can be recycled at a recycling centre and many councils offer a collection service.
- You can also sell them if they’re in good condition, donate them to charity, or give them to a friend or family member. One word of caution about donating furniture to charity, not all kinds of furniture can be re-sold by charity shops, so it’s worth checking before you donate. You can check what they do and don’t accept here.
Chest of drawers
As with many other types of furniture, you can recycle it, donate it, or pass it on, but if it’s just old and needs a bit of a tlc, it might be a shame to give it away. Older furniture was built to last, so why not upcycle it and create something completely new for your home instead? You can sand it and touch it up with some chalk paint, change any drawer handles, line the drawers with some pretty wallpaper or similar, and voila, your very own bespoke piece of furniture-and no waste sent to landfill!
Curtains are textiles, and the good news is, there are lots of ways to keep them out of the bin and out of landfill.
- If they are in good condition they can be donated to a charity shop. Even materials that aren’t re-sellable can be made into new items like padding for chairs and cleaning cloths.
- You can take your old curtains to a recycling point or textile bank.
Lamps and other electricals
Some councils accept small electrical items in kerbside collections, otherwise, they have to be taken to proper collection points at recycling centres or back to retailers. Electricals need to be recycled properly as some contain precious metals and plastics that can be recovered, as well as hazardous materials. If the item is still safe to use and in good condition, you could sell it, donate it to charity or pass it on.
Mattresses are 100% recyclable, but only around 16% of them are recycled in the UK. The rest end up in landfill or the incinerator, and the main reason for this is that they are too bulky and awkward to recycle, or people aren’t sure if they can be recycled.
If the mattress is in good condition:
- Give it to a friend or family member.
- Donate it to a furniture reuse charity.
- Advertise it on Freecycle or Facebook marketplace.
- Check with the retailer to see if they offer a recycling scheme. John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, and Dreams will recycle your old mattress when you buy a new one from them. Other retailers may offer a similar scheme, but check that they actually recycle the mattresses, rather than just taking them to landfill.
- Your council may offer a bulky items collection service which usually includes mattresses.
- You can also take your mattress to a local household recycling centre.
We hope this helps and we hope you enjoy giving your home a revamp for the spring!