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Waste Not, Want Not! 5 ways you can turn dirt into gold

Written on: 25 Jan 2018
Author: David Charles

The People's Fridge

Plastic is horrible. We've known that for decades, but it's taken the Chinese to prick our conscience and make us actually take action to cut down on our addiction to single-use plastics. Now the internet is buzzing with lists of the 9 best reusable coffee cups and stories about South Pacific hermit crabs making homes out of our garish plastic throwaways.

But instead of sending our recycling abroad, or delegating the job to homeless crabs, what if we made use of our own old tat? In recent years, a whole doing good industry has bloomed around the growing realisation that recycling and reusing isn't just kinder to the environment, it also makes our brains bigger and our wallets heavier.

So here's our bandwagon-jumping list of five awesome projects that turn dirt into gold.

The Restart Project (in Bermondsey, but the movement's global) is a social enterprise that teaches ordinary folks how to fix broken electronics. When your phone goes dead, what's better – to shell out £300 on a new handset, or to learn that it's a dodgy connection in the charger and can be fixed with a 5 minute soldering session?

Winners: You, your brain, your wallet, the nice people in the recycling factory who don't have to bother taking your phone apart, the planet. Their next Prepare to Repair Restart Party is on Sunday 28 January at the Goodlife Centre in central London.

My new favourite recycling intervention is Smalls For All, who take your 'gently worn' bras and give them to under-underweared women in Africa. According to their Pantometer, they've redistributed an astonishing 523,141 items of underwear since 2010. Pantastic!

Food is one thing that should never be wasted, and yet... Every year we throw away about £13 billion of edible food. The People's Fridge in Brixton is on a mission to stop that crime against cuisine. You can leave your still-good-to-eat nosh on the fridge shelves, and anyone with a rumble in their tummies can stop by and dine out.

Turning to the topic of our beloved bikes, social enterprise Cycle of Good employ Malawian tailors to transform your burst inner tubes into brilliant new purses, wallets and cases for pencils and glasses, simultaneously helping to support children's centres in one of the world's poorest communities.

And of course at The Bike Project we take old bikes that last saw action in your misspent youth and turn them into modern machines of love and steel, ready to liberate another generation. Donate yours today!

(What? You didn't think we'd miss out on a chance to plug ourselves, did you? 😀)

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