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Making sure there is still a world for us to explore

Posted by Squiffy on July 18th, 2007

I’m so excited about our plans to explore the world. But for how long will we be able to see all that there is to see now?

I’m certainly not an eco-warrior and I don’t even consider myself to be particularly green. However, I am becoming increasingly concerned about our throwaway ethos here in the UK and two things have nudged me into writing this post:

  • Firstly, like Dave, I found that when I rummaged through belongings to pack them I had a large amount of ‘tat’ and/or cheap ‘throwaway’ items (mainly Primark tops and handbags). Some of these things I didn’t really need or value and certainly didn’t see them as treasured possessions. Just because they’re cheap doesn’t mean I should have bought more.
  • Secondly, I’ve just sat through an hour length BBC documentary on our obsession with consumerism, and in particular buying things cheaply, then throwing them away to buy ‘updated versions’ etc.

The part of the documentary that really got me was the sight of hundreds of old monitors and TVs wich had been dumped. There are 60 million people in this country. If every one of them decides to buy a flat screen TV over the next few years, there’s going to be a lot of dumped televisions.

The reason for this post is just to share with you the ways that Dave and I have discovered to ‘dump’ our unwanted things in ways which are slightly better for our planet than just sticking them in landfill. I’m sure most of you web/green savvy people will be aware of the options, but just to remind you, here are some ideas which focus mainy on recycling or reusing:

  • Good old charity shops. They will take your clothes/books/cds/household items and if the they think they can’t sell them, they can send them to recycling centres.
  • If you think your clothes or shoes aren’t really in good enough condition to sell, many places (including supermarkets) have ‘clothes banks’ where, as a last resort, clothes are reused for rags or sold to people who reuse the material to make other items.
  • Consider taking books, especially specialist one, to your local library. Whereas charity shops may not be able to sell these kinds of books, we found our library was happy to have them. And more people can benefit from borrowing them!
  • Often we consider selling our old items such as TVs, hifis, matresses, furniture etc. Even though we no longer want them we think others might be prepared to pay a nominal fee for them. But with products available so cheaply, people want second hand things for nothing. If you’re feeling generous and can’t be bothered with the hassle of ebaying something for £2.34, Freecycle is a great option. How it works: you join your local group online (there are groups in most areas) and when you have something you want to get rid of, you advertise it on the web site. People who are interested then call/email you and you can arrange for them to collect it. And in my experience I’ve found they’re very grateful. You’ve got a clear conscious for recycling unwanted goods and they have the items they’ve been after for nothing. Everyone’s happy. You can list almost anything on there….tonight’s selection includes a piano and styrofoam peanuts for packing! The gumtree web site is also a good way to find a new home for things. Post an advert under ‘freebies’ and you’re pretty likely to relocate your item. And if you’re feeling lucky, you could always try selling it on the gumtree…I’ve had some success in the past with clothes and accessories.
  • New laws that came into effect on July 1st require distributors and producers to make arrangements for recycling appliances and gadgets – even if sold or made by other companies. This means that when you buy a DVD player for example, the retailer is obliged to take your old video player and dispose of it in a certain way. Make sure you exercise this right where possible to avoid putting old electrical equipment in landfill. Click here for more info and advice on what happens to electrical equipment and what you can do to help.
  • On a more creative and fun note you can have a swap party. Last year I got my girl friends together and asked them to bring any of their unwanted items to trade with each other. After consuming a chocolate fondue and a few beers my guests swapped hip hats for trendy tops, travel books for novels and dance mats for handbags. It’s a great and ethical way to ‘shop’ without spending money!

Don’t forget, not only can you give things away using these methods, often you can obtain things that you want from others, including costly items sometimes; on the gumtree this evening someone was offering a 6 month old washing machine due to a house move. On freecycle and the gumtree you can ask for items that you need and charity shops often have suprisingly good items for sale. I had to exercise restraint when I saw I nice handbag whilst dropping off donations! Buying second hand is so much better all round, and we still fulfill our desire to treat ourselves and have ‘new’ things. I’m not saying that I could do this for everything by any means, but even the occasional item would make a difference.

Please do share with us any others ideas you have for recycling/reusing/reducing consumerism by adding a comment. And continue to enjoy exploring our world.


Comment from Fiona (NLP)
Time: July 26, 2007, 1:13 pm

Hi Dave and Squiffy,

It’s been very interesting and entertaining to read your blog and just had to comment on
Squiffy’s bit about ‘Making sure there’s a world left to explore’. I see a big move towards this sort
of thinking recently, I feel a tipping point is about to be reached and you have just contributed
to that so good for you!

In case you’re interested Dave there’s a book you might find interesting and useful on your
travels round Britain – The Cloudspotter’s Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney (co-founder of The Idler
magazine!) It’s about £4 in Tesco at the moment. Or if you want to follow the green path you
might find it on the Bookcrossing website. If you’ve not heard of it before it’s a website where
people can leave details of a public place they’ve left a book for others to find. A sort of book
sharing service. There are books left in places all over the world!

Good to hear you’re off on your travels, but should you exchange your car for a boat while you’re
travelling in the UK?

Best Wishes


Comment from Claire
Time: July 29, 2007, 12:16 pm

Hi Fiona

That site sounds like great fun, we might have to look into that.

We nearly swapped our car for a campervan yesterday but your idea
of a boat sounds much appropriate. It’s really no fun doing Britain in this
weather and we make go abroad fairly soon!

Claire x

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