Recycling your clutter

Most of us can easily recycle our household waste. But decluttering throws up a whole load of junk that we simply don’t know what to do with. In fact, holding on to things because we don’t know how to dispose of them often contributes to clutter in the first place.

To recycle items, the obvious place to go is your local authority. Local authorities now have extensive recycling facilities, recycling most things from broken TVs to old clothing. To find your local authority recycling page go to the Recycling at Home section of www.directgov.uk.

You can also try to pass on your usable-but-unwanted possessions to someone who does want it by signing up to one of the large networks like Freegle and Freecycle. These networks consist of local groups of people looking to get rid of or find particular items. Go to www.ilovefreegle.org or www.freecycle.org to find your local group.

Recycle Now on www.recyclenow.com is a great source of information on recycling, with a search facility to help you find services in your area.

Electrical appliances

Recycling things like hairdryers and toasters is no longer difficult. According to Recycle Now, if it has a plug, uses batteries, needs charging or has a crossed-out wheelie bin logo on it, then the appliance can be recycled. As well as your local council facilities, if the appliance is in good working order you can try local charity shops.  Some charity shops now specialise in taking electrical goods (see our article on donating to charity shops); The British Heart Foundation, for instance, has some shops which take electrical goods.

Remember that when you buy a new electrical item, the shop is now obliged to either take the old item or tell you where you can recycle it free of charge.

Large electrical appliances and furniture

Many community projects will take large appliances such as fridges and cookers, as well as furniture and clean carpet, so they can sell them at affordable prices to people and families on low incomes. There is currently a shortage of good-condition ‘white goods’. Go to www.frn.org.uk to find your local re-use charity.

Your local authority will also run a collection service for large items, although there is usually a charge for this.

Recycling computers and PCs

Your local authority will have recycling facilities for old computers, but if you want to donate your computer to charity, try www.donateapc.org.uk which is a free 'matchmaking' service for people wanting to give hardware (computers, printers etc) to charities, not-for-profit organisations and educational establishments. PCs need to be fairly up-to-date – Pentium PC or equivalent – and in working order.

Remember you will need to properly delete personal information from your computer before giving it away. Go to www.getsafeonline.org for advice. The website also offers tips on how you could re-use your computer in your home.

Tools

If you have tools for bicycle repairs, clothing or shoe repairs, or which could be useful to blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers or mechanics, and try Tools for Self Reliance (www.tfsr.org), which refurbishes tools and sewing machines for use in rural Africa.

Batteries

In the UK, only about three to five per cent of all household batteries are recycled, and yet if you bin household batteries they’re likely to end up in landfill and leak chemicals like lead, mercury or cadmium into the soil and water.

Look out for the ‘Be Positive’ signs for used battery collection points in your local area. Most shops selling batteries have bins for used batteries – as of this year shops selling a certain amount of batteries must take used batteries free of charge.

Car batteries

Car batteries can be a problem – you can’t just throw them out as they are treated as hazardous waste. To recycle them – try local garages, scrap metal facilities or your local council recycling centre. See www.recyclenow.com to find out where you can recycle car batteries in your area.

Mobile phones

Up to 80 per cent of a phone is recyclable. Many charities collect mobile phones either for refurbishment and reuse or to recycle for cash.

Old paints

Go to www.communityrepaint.org.uk to find a local community project accepting unwanted paint.

The Self Storage Blog