Our Waste Isn’t Rubbish campaign is calling for Birmingham City Council to implement a greener, more sustainable waste system. Whilst we wait for the Future Waste Strategy public consultation to open, we thought it would be a good idea to explore the ways in which we can reduce the amount of waste we throw away. Here are a few tips on how to waste less and consume better.

Buy Me Once (www.buymeonce.com)

The best way to reduce waste is to buy stuff that will last. This can be a bit tricky though, as spending more doesn’t always mean you’ll get better quality, more durable goods. Thankfully, the people at ‘Buy Me Once’ have researched it for you. This website’s motto is “Love things that lasts”. It lists products from beauty to clothes, kitchen, tools, toys and more, that will simply last. It may be a bit more expensive at first, but with lifelong warranties and robust construction, you’ll save in the long run.


“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. You may not want to reuse that old fusty armchair, but there might be someone looking for one just like this. Almost any items can be given away or found on Freecycle. I have gotten rid of a non-working hoover (taken to be used used in a science experiment), a box of random bits of wire, old camping blankets and more. I have also acquired many items including a greenhouse, a desk, chairs and plants. All for free!

The principle is simple: join the group, list your items, if someone wants it, they’ll contact you and arrange to collect it from you.

There are a variety of groups in the West Midlands including Birmingham, Cannock, Solihull, Walsall and Bromsgrove. Go to https://www.freecycle.org/browse/UK/West%20Midlands for a full list and links.

Ebay (www.ebay.co.uk)

If you don’t want to give up your old treasures for free, or if you can’t find the item you’re looking for on Freecycle, Ebay’s the site for you! There’s no need to introduce it really. To make the hunt for bargains easier, I refine my searches to ‘used’ items only, and sort them by nearest to my postcode.

Charity shops

Your local charity shops will welcome your unwanted items. Some will collect large items of furniture for free, and even accept partly-used tins of paints, odd floor tiles or wallpaper remnants.

Here are just a few of the charity shops we use in Birmingham:

-The ReUsers, Sutton Coldfield: A large, regularly renewed stock of furniture, household items, sports and garden equipment, building materials, toys, clothes, electrical and more. It’s a social enterprise too, so you’re helping out in more way than one. http://jericho.org.uk/reuse/

-PDSA, King’s Heath: Clothes, accessories and books in a nice and light shop.

-Oxfam Books and Music, Kings heath, Moseley and Harborne: A treasure trove of books and music.

iFix it. (https://www.ifixit.com/)

Fixing stuff might be easier than you think! Website ‘iFix it’ is an online fixing manual, for items ranging from phones and cars, to door handles and lamps. It’s written by people like you (or in my case, people more crafty than me). Anyone can contribute and anyone can access the repair guides, for free. You can also ask the online community if you have questions and buy parts.

By Rita Gries