How do I know if something is re-usable?
It’s a question a lot of people seem quite unsure about, often when they’re thinking about donating things like furniture to re-use organisations when they no longer need them.
There seem to be two camps of people when it comes to this issue– one with great quality stuff that they think no-one else would want, and another that leans a bit too far the other way, thinking a few stains and missing pieces don’t mean a thing can’t still be used.
Here’s a quick guide for anyone not sure whether their item is something that their local re-use organisation would come to collect:
In fairness, the term ‘re-usable’ is probably a bit unhelpful, as even a partially burnt sofa could still technically be sat on, but that doesn’t mean any re-use shop in the land would take it. A better term to think of is ‘re-sellable’ - can you imagine someone paying money for it? Local charities will collect stuff for free if they are able to sell them on in their re-use shops.
Bear in mind that student landlords and the like will often buy from second hand furniture places, so it doesn’t matter too much if the furniture has gone slightly out of style – it’s more about the overall condition that it’s in.
Good condition is key
That leads us nicely to the condition. If it’s been well looked after and has minimal wear and tear then most re-use shops will take it. The main things that stop re-use organisations picking things up are:
- Marks, tears and stains on fabrics
- Sofas without fire tags – they have to have these to be re-sold
- Sun damage/faded items
- Marks and stains on mattresses
- Dining tables without matching chairs
- Single armchairs (people tend to want a set)
It doesn’t matter so much about the age of the item, so long as the condition is good. If you’re passing on white goods though, items over 10 years old will prove difficult to sell, so you may struggle to get anyone to come and collect them.
When it comes to having stuff collected from your house, size matters. It is not economical for most re-organisations to send a van out for smaller items, so if you’re calling the Re-use Line on 0800 0665 820 to arrange a collection, or calling your local re-use organisation direct, be aware they will probably only send a driver out for the big stuff like sofas, dining sets, wardrobes, chests of drawers, bikes and white goods. Smaller stuff can be dropped off there though, or at your local charity shop.
No repair jobs please
Most re-use organisations’ won’t have the capacity to make repairs to things, so the items should be ready for someone else to re-use it right away. The exception to this is bikes – bikes in need of repair and also bike parts can be passed on as most bike re-use shops specialise in refurbishing them.