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Recycling is great, but reusing items is even better. Reusing items, including repairing them, for their original purpose or a new purpose, gives them a new lease of life, saves money and reduces waste.

Please see below for the various ways items can be reused:

Asking family and friends if they have a use for things you no longer need is a good first step, whether it is clothes, furniture, books or anything else.

Simply giving or receiving ‘passed on’ items, either to borrow or to keep – helps to reduce and reuse unwanted items.

If you are part of a community group you may want to set up your own reuse scheme.

Examples include:

  • toy libraries, which are great for groups supporting children and young people
  • gardening clubs, who may be interested in saving money by sharing more expensive tools, like hedge trimmers or shredders
  • hobby and craft clubs, who can share equipment, left over materials and gadgets to help other enthusiasts

You can offer all sorts of items to other people online using reuse groups or by selling them.

No cost - Freegle, Freecycle and Trash Nothing! offer free exchange websites which are a great way to offer items you no longer need, and to request items you may be looking for, free of charge. 

There are many established local groups in West Northamptonshire with thousands of active members – they are worth joining.

Alternatively, look up your local area’s Facebook “buy and sell” page/s to find out what people are selling or giving away locally to you. 

Selling and buying - There are lots of online and mobile app sales platforms where you can sell just about anything from furniture to electricals and clothing. 

Ebay, Gumtree, Facebook marketplace, Vinted and Depop are just a few that you may have heard of, but there are lots to choose from.

Please be careful when using any online community or marketplace - follow all guidelines and rules to ensure your safety.

By donating or buying from charity shops you are contributing to reducing and reusing, saving money, and making a donation to a worthwhile cause.

Most charity shops sell everyday items such as bric-a-brac, books, CDs, clothing, electricals, DVDs and toys, so please consider donating your unbroken and unwanted items to a charity shop rather than putting them in your rubbish bin.

Several charities also collect items like foreign currency, mobile phones, printer cartridges, and stamps which are recycled or refurbished to raise funds.

There are several charities locally that can offer free collections for larger items of furniture that are able to be reused (they need to be clean and undamaged), such as:

Please note: All upholstered furniture, such as sofas, mattresses and padded dining chairs, need to have an appropriate fire label to be donated to charity for reuse – please see websites above for further information. 

Furniture that can be reused can also be taken to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (see next section) and broken furniture can also be taken for recycling or disposal.

We also offer a paid for bulky waste collection service for larger items of household waste.

A reuse service is found at each one of the Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) within West Northamptonshire.

If your items are in a good condition and you think they can be re-used please take them to the reuse drop off area. The Reuse Agent will assess the item and advise if it is suitable for reuse.

Please ensure:

  • any electrical items are in working order
  • upholstered furniture (chairs, sofas, clean mattresses etc) have the appropriate fire safety labels attached

Items collected for reuse in West Northamptonshire are sold at an off-site reuse shop (apart from Farthinghoe which has its own reuse shop) allowing people to purchase affordable items and diverting them from disposal.

There are 3 reuse shops in West Northamptonshire. They are operated by independent businesses under contract to us:

  • Farthinghoe Recycling Centre features an on-site shop where items are available for purchase, operated by Ace Reuse
  • Brixworth: Ace Reuse Ltd, 128C Northampton Road, Brixworth, NN6 9BU
  • Northampton: Recyclemart/Timewarp Reclaim Reuse, 1-5 Milton Street, Northampton, NN2 7JG

There are many advantages to using cloth nappies. They are better for the environment as they are washed and reused rather than being thrown away – each disposable nappy takes around 500 years to decompose.  

They can save you money and come in a range of funky designs, colours and materials with soft cloth inserts and easy fastenings such as Velcro or poppers.

A repair café is somewhere that items can be bought back to life by you and local volunteer experts with tools and materials to help make the repairs.

There is a repair café in Towcester at Renew 169. This runs on the last Saturday of every month between 10am and midday (please note that it will not run in December 2024). No booking required - just turn up.

There are also cafes in Wellingborough at the Eco Hub and one in Market Harborough at the repair cabin.

Find out more about repair cafés.

Events like bring and buy sales are excellent ways of giving items extra life without them being thrown away.

Holding a swap shop or give and take day

A swap shop is like a cashless bring-and-buy sale. It sometimes has other names “bring and take”, “give or take days”, “free for all” or “Freecycle days”.

Participants do not need to bring anything in order to take away goods, and vice versa. However, you may want to limit the number of free items taken per person to avoid abuse from traders looking for cheap items to sell on. 

Additional items can be sold to participants at your event for a nominal price.

This is a great way for a community to come together, and for local groups to raise their profile. You can use this as a fund-raising idea by asking for donations, charging an entry fee, or selling additional items above the agreed limit for free items.

See below for some useful tools to help you organise your event:

To use the event poster templates, simply fill in the form boxes for the name of your group and the event, the day and date of your event, the time of your event and the address of the venue.

If you are using Adobe Reader, you will not be able to save the completed poster, but you can print it. If you have Adobe Acrobat, you should be able to save and print.

Holding a swishing party

A swishing party is a fun way to update your wardrobe for free. It is easy to do and it can be as big or small as you want, from a small group of friends to a bustling community event.

Like swap shops, swishing events are a great way for a community to come together and for local groups to raise their profile. You can use this as a fund-raising idea by asking for donations, charging an entry fee, or selling additional items above the agreed limit for free items.

You may find this online guide on how to run swishing party helpful.

Reduce your consumption

  • buy only what you need
  • wear what you have got for longer – extending the wear of a garment for nine months can reduce the environmental impact by 20-30% 
  • swap unwanted clothing with family and friends
  • buy second-hand or vintage clothing – try charity shops, and online platforms, and check if your children’s school sells second-hand uniforms
  • buy the best quality you can within your budget and follow the care instructions on the label to prolong the life of the garment
  • repair clothing
    • find a local repairer or seek out a repair café, many of which can offer simple clothing repairs and/or use online guides (see below), or use an online tutorial to learn a new skill!

Sell it on

  • make some money by selling unwanted clothing. Reselling a cotton T-shirt second-hand – versus throwing it away – reduces its carbon impact by 14%
    • from eBay to Vinted, there are lots of online ways to sell unwanted, good-quality clothes generating some cash while reducing the demand for new clothing
    • car boot sales are another option 


  • donate to charity shops, helping a good cause while giving clothes a second life 
  • donate to textile banks or give unwanted clothing to family or friends
  • declutter your wardrobe by giving away any unwanted items when you buy a new one
  • use online platforms
  • donate old towels and blankets to animal charities


Reuse is always best. If you can’t reuse your old clothing through the suggestions above, then reusable clothing and shoes can be placed in a textile bank for recycling.

Textile banks are available at all of our Household Waste Recycling Centres.

Check whether your local charity shop will accept ‘rags’ for recycling. If they do, always bag separately and clearly label.

Get involved

If you have other ideas for reusing and recycling, then please get in touch or share with us on our Facebook and X (Twitter) pages.

Online repair guides

Further reuse

  • Marks and Spencer Shwopping - donate your pre-loved M&S school uniform into the Shwop box in the M&S kidswear department in selected stores
  • H&M garment recycling service - get a £5 voucher for each bag of unwanted clothes you take to H&M stores for reuse and recycling
  • Primark's sustainable fashion scheme - Primark accepts unwanted clothing, textiles, bags, and footwear from any brand, in any condition at all 190 stores across the UK
  • Facebook Marketplace - a convenient destination on Facebook to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community
  • Gumtree - a free classified ads site where you can buy and sell items
  • Preloved - a free classified ads site where you can buy and sell items split into 500 categories
  • Shpock - you can create your listing quickly by taking a picture, writing a title, a short description and setting a price

Last updated 20 May 2024