Ways to reduce and reuse

Resources are available to help you reduce your waste or reuse unwanted items.

Reducing waste and reusing items saves energy and resources, which in turn helps create less pollution and helps the environment.

How to reduce and reuse

Love Food Hate Waste

Households in the UK throw away seven million tonnes of food and drink every year. The average family could save £700 a year or £60 a month by making some quick and easy changes to how they manage food.

Not only is wasting food and drink a waste of money, but it is also an unnecessary waste of energy and natural resources which go into its production. By reducing the amount of food and drink wasted, 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved, the equivalent of taking one in four cars off the road.

Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website to learn more about how you can reduce food waste, save money and help the environment. The website offers meal-planning tips and recipes, ideas on how to use leftovers and information on how to store your food so it stays fresher for longer.

Food waste apps

Reducing food waste is a priority of many households and organisations. As a result, there are now many food waste apps where you can find perfectly good food that would otherwise be put in the bin, at a much lower cost or sometimes for free.

Too Good To Go

Launched in 2016, this free app tackles food waste by making surplus, unsold food from supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and independent food retailers available to consumers at heavily discounted prices. The app lets you find participating venues by:

  • name
  • location
  • time of day

The food comes in a lucky dip 'magic bag.' Each bag costs a third of the retail price. Too Good To Go is used by 6.6 million users in the UK.

Download the Too Good To Go app on App store

Download the Too Good To Go app on Google Play store 


Olio is the world's largest food sharing network. It connects neighbours with each other and a network of volunteers with local businesses so that surplus food is given and not thrown away. 

You can take pictures of your items and add them to the listings. Neighbours then receive customised alerts and can request anything they need, with pick-up arranged through private messaging. This app is free.

Download Olio on App store

Download Olio on Google Play store


This free app tackles food waste in the home by helping you keep track of what you've bought and plan meals accordingly. Scan your receipts or upload online receipts stored on your phone. The app then taps into its recipe bank to plan meals based on the food you have, alerting you to items near their use-by dates.

Download Kitche on App store

Download Kitche on Google Play store

It’s Out of Date

We are supporting WRAP’s Wasting Food: It’s Out of Date.

Throwing out food is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. When we waste food, it’s not just the food we’re wasting, it’s the resources it takes to produce it – like water and the land that could have been cleared to create the space to grow it, too. With a massive 25-30% of global greenhouse gases coming from the food system alone, it’s safe to say that we need to do something about it and be more eco-friendly. In the UK, 9.5 million tonnes of food are wasted every year; 70% of this comes from our homes. Of that, 4.5 million tonnes could have been eaten. 

Charity shop and furniture reuse directory

The document below can help you find the nearest charity shop or furniture reuse organisation in your area, the range of items they accept and their ability to collect or deliver items.

 Reuse directory (pdf / 611 KB)

Reuse scheme websites

Online exchange systems are a way for people to connect and reuse unwanted items. A growing number of national and local websites are available. Some are listed below.


Freecycle is dedicated to keeping household items out of landfill by finding new homes for them. Membership is free and the system is easy to use. People offer items on a local website and anyone who would like the item will email the giver, expressing their interest. 

In North Yorkshire there are eight groups (Harrogate, Richmond, Ripon, Scarborough, Selby, Northallerton and Thirsk, Ryedale and Skipton and Craven) and one in York.


Freegle works in a very similar way to Freecycle but it is a UK-based organisation rather than world-wide. It is free to become a member.

In North Yorkshire there are six groups (Northallerton and Thirsk, Scarborough and Whitby, Skipton and Craven, Ryedale, Harrogate, and Selby) and one in York.

Other sites

PrelovedGumtree and eBay are also available for buying and selling secondhand items. Groups are available on social networking such as Facebook where local residents can post their items on a group page.

Local auction houses

Local auction houses are useful for selling unwanted household furniture and items. Most market towns with an auction mart will offer a household sale. Check locally for your nearest saleroom.

Freedom Mobiles

If you wish to sell on your old electronic devices then you can compare the prices paid by recyclers on the Freedom Mobiles website.

A-Z guide to reuse in North Yorkshire


Thirsk Clock supports young people from the Thirsk area in reaching their full potential. They run repair workshops for young people to learn new skills and offer bikes to young people as transport to help them get to work.

Our partner Yorwaste has a scheme to collect unused bikes and donate them to those in need. Bikes can be donated at your local household waste recycling centre. For details visit the Yorwaste website.



  • if your carpet is in good condition, try selling it or giving it away online or advertise in local papers and community notice boards
  • furniture reuse groups will sometimes accept clean unwanted carpets
  • use it in your garden to create walkways between veg beds or offer it to a local gardening group

CDs and DVDs

Children's toys and equipment

  • donate clean and safe children's toys and equipment to a charity shop
  • give them away to friends or online
  • sell them at a jumble sale or nearly new sale

Reuse Santa appeal

Our partner Yorwaste helps many children who may not have an enjoyable Christmas. Every year near Christmas they collect unwanted toys from families across North Yorkshire, to reuse and redistribute them back to other children through our charity partners.

The charities give out toys to children, or use the toys to raise money for their causes. The charity partners are mostly local charities such as No Wrong Door, Early Help, with other charities involved including the British Heart Foundation and the Daisy Chain Project.

Toys can be donated at your local household waste recycling centre until 30 November. For details, visit the Yorwaste Reuse Santa Appeal page.

Clothes and household textiles

  • swap clothes and accessories with friends and family informally
  • clothes that are in a saleable condition can be donated to a charity shop
  • textile banks are located on all household waste recycling centres and at some recycling bring bank sites
  • Bag2School works with over 20,000 schools organising textile collections to raise money for PTAs, Scout groups and other clubs

Other textiles such as bedding, towels, handbags, cloths, rugs and mats can also be taken to a charity shop if they are in a saleable condition.

Clothing and textiles that are ripped or damaged and are not suitable for reuse can still be placed in textile banks found on all household waste recycling centres and at some recycling bring bank sites. They will be recycled into new products such as industrial cloths, mattress filling or insulation. If you would like to take them to a charity shop, please check in advance with the shop. Please dispose of soiled or wet textiles in your household bin.

Electrical goods and IT equipment


Generally furniture reuse organisations will accept:

  • usable furniture including sofas, mattresses and wardrobes
  • household electrical appliances including washing machines, fridges and freezers

Contact reuse organisations in advance to find out if your donation is suitable. They may also collect large items from your home.

Household items, small furniture and bric a brac

  • items that are in a saleable condition can be donated to a charity shop
  • hold a community Bring and Take day where people can swap things they no longer need
  • give away or sell items online


  • contact local doctors' and dentists' surgeries, or hospitals to see if they would welcome magazine donations for their waiting rooms
  • playschools may also be interested in taking old magazines for creative projects

Mobile phones

  • most mobile phone shops will accept old handsets for reuse or recycling
  • many charities recycle phones to raise funds
  • the Cone Exchange project in Harrogate collects mobile phones, sells them on to reuse organisations and uses the proceeds to buy educational books and DVDs for schools
  • sell or exchange them for cash online


Please tie or bag shoes together in pairs.


  • ask your optician if they collect old spectacles. Many do and they are donated to charities which send them to developing countries
  • the Cone Exchange project in Harrogate collects spectacles, sells them on to reuse organisations and uses the proceeds to buy educational books and DVDs for schools

Printer cartridges

  • some cartridges can be refilled, saving you up to 60% on the price of a new cartridge - if they cannot be refilled, some shops will take back printer cartridges and may give you money off new purchases
  • the Cone Exchange project in Harrogate collects printer cartridges, sells them on to reuse organisations and uses the proceeds to buy educational books and DVDs for schools


Tools for Self Reliance helps people in developing countries to earn a living and support their families. Collection points can be found at the Ripon and West Harrogate household waste recycling centres. Find out what can be donated on the Tools for Self Reliance website.

Resources for educators

Primary education

Home composting

The North Yorkshire Rotters are a group of enthusiastic volunteers who can visit schools, groups and events to run activities to encourage composting, recycling and reducing food waste. Some popular activities include creating mini wormeries and making smoothies with the smoothie making bike.

To arrange for a Rotter to visit your group or event, please contact us

Online resources

Recycle Now recycling at school has resources to teach reducing food waste, composting and recycling to pupils including lesson plans in design and technology, science and music, presentations for assemblies, along with games and videos.

The Eco-Schools scheme helps schools follow a seven-step process to address a variety of environmental themes to achieve awards that can be used to motivate students about recycling.

Keep Britain Tidy has resources on recycling including activities, information and teacher resources including suggested links to subjects.

The Friends of the Earth website has tips for making your school greener.

Responsible Recycling is a website on electrical recycling for children and schools.

Secondary education

Responsible Recycling is a website on electrical recycling for children and schools.

Reusable nappies

Washable and reusable nappies, or real nappies, have modern designs, are easy to use and offer environmental and financial benefits. 

Environmental benefits

Using real nappies means very little waste ending up in landfill sites unlike the 3 billion disposable nappies that are thrown away each year in the UK, 90% of which are landfilled. A baby in disposables will need about 4,000 nappy changes in total - that’s 4,000 disposable nappies in a landfill site.

Real nappies can be up to 40% better for the environment than disposables. Unlike disposables, real nappies mean carbon savings directly related to how you choose to wash your real nappies.

Financial benefits

If used from birth, you can save anywhere between £100 and £1,000 by the time your baby is potty-trained. There is an initial outlay of around £70-£200 (depending on which type you purchase) when buying your cloth nappies. A 60 C wash in a standard washing machine costs approximately 23p, totalling £42 a year (including detergent).

How do they work?

Reusable nappies come in a variety of types and are made from different materials such as cotton, hemp, bamboo and fleece. They are either one or two layer systems, but all have a waterproof outer to protect clothing. Washable or disposable biodegradable liners can be used to dispose of solids. Reusable nappies are soft, breathable, naturally absorbent and contain no chemicals or gels next to baby's skin.

Types of nappy

There are four main types of nappies available. Most of these are available in a variety of colours and materials. Nappies are available in one size and use poppers or Velcro to increase the nappy size as the baby grows, or in a range of sizes depending on the baby's weight.

Type Description
Flat nappies Flat nappies are sheets of material that need to be folded before they can be put on your baby. They also need a separate waterproof cover, similar to those used with shaped nappies.
Shaped nappies These nappies come ready for baby to wear and are usually fastened with Velcro or poppers. They have a separate waterproof cover that fastens in the same way.
Stuffable nappies As the name suggests, a flat absorbent material pad is "stuffed" into a waterproof cover and then put onto baby as one item. Again, these generally fasten with Velcro or poppers.
All-in-one nappies These are similar to shaped nappies but have a waterproof cover attached to the nappy so you only have to put one item on baby.


  • store your used nappies in a nappy bucket or wet bag - no need to soak them
  • once you are ready to wash put all of your used nappies in the washing machine
  • add a powdered detergent of your choice - non Bio or Bio, but please be aware that some nappy manufactures do not recommend Bio as it is believed that the enzymes can eat away at natural fibres, therefore reducing the life of your nappies - it could also void any manufacturer’s warranty
  • never add a fabric softener, this coats the fabric and reduces absorbency - nappy sanitiser is unnecessary, but you can add some to the wash if you wish
  • wash the nappies on a long cotton cycle (or your machines alternative) at 60 C - some parents find lower temperatures sufficient
  • in good weather, hang your washed nappies outside to dry if possible - the UV rays will help bleach out any stains too

For more information on using real nappies, visit Go Real, a social enterprise helping families find the greener side of life. They deliver clear, independent and easy to understand information about reusable nappies, or find out about nappies from recyclenow.com

If you are undecided on nappies, Baby Centre offers information on the choices available.

Nappies, new and used, are available to purchase online and in shops, just search for reusable nappies.

Reusable period products

Reduce plastic and waste with reusable period products

Disposable menstrual pads can contain up to 90% plastic and most tampons contain plastic too. It is estimated that nearly two billion single-use period products are flushed down toilets each year - 4.6million every single day. These products are harmful to marine life, contribute to fatbergs and make up 10% of sewage related debris on beaches. 

Disposal in the bin of single-use menstrual products - tampons, pads and applicators - generates 200,000 tonnes of waste per year in the UK. 

Switching to reusable period products means producing less waste. You could switch to:

  • washable period pants
  • washable cloth pads
  • a menstrual cup
  • a reusable tampon applicator

Types of reusable period products

Period pants

Period pants are simply a pair of underpants with an absorbent inner panel. They come in many shapes, styles, sizes and absorbencies. They are a good option for young people or if you do not want to use an internal product. 

You can purchase a wide variety of period pants online from many companies and also at some larger supermarkets and department stores.

Pads and liners

There is a huge choice of reusable pads and liners on the market, from big brands to local producers. They are a shaped pad with wings that attach around your underwear with poppers, similar to a disposable period pad.

Menstrual cups

Menstrual cups are a very sustainable option, as you only need one product which can last for up to ten years. They are available in different shapes and sizes.

Reusable tampon applicators

If you are not quite ready to switch completely to reusables, but want to move away from disposable applicator tampons, you can buy reusable applicators.

Junk mail

Reducing the amount of junk mail being delivered to your home can reduce the amount of waste that you produce. 

Why reduce junk mail?

Many households will receive a considerable amount of unwanted or junk mail during the course of the year.

  • a lot of direct mail is poorly targeted and irrelevant and quite often is thrown straight in the bin
  • receiving mail that you don't want can be irritating, inconvenient and in some cases distressing
  • it's easy to stop junk mail and it can make a big difference to the amount of waste we produce.

Stop getting junk mail

There are some actions you can take to stop getting junk mail. There is no single organisation you can register with.

Contact Royal Mail

You can tell Royal Mail to stop delivering junk mail to your address. Download a form from the Royal Mail website, fill it in and send it to the address on the form. Royal Mail will send you a copy of the form if you cannot print it yourself. You can contact them by:

Letter: Royal Mail Door to Door Opt Out, Freepost, Royal Mail Customer Services
Phone: 0345 266 0858
Email: optout@royalmail.com

You will stop getting unaddressed junk mail within 6 weeks.

Register with the ‘Your Choice’ scheme

Registering with the Direct Marketing Association, which the majority of door to door distribution companies and free papers have signed up to will help reduce the amount of junk mail you get. Contact The Direct Marketing Association and ask them to send you an opt out form.

DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS
Phone: 020 7291 3300
Email: yourchoice@dma.org.uk

Register with the Mailing Preference Service

Registering with the Mailing Preference Service will stop advertising material that is addressed to you personally. You can register online or contact them by phone on 020 7291 3310.

You should start to notice a difference soon after registering – but it can take up to four months for the service to be fully effective.

Contact your electoral registration office

You can search for your local electoral registration office here. You can choose for your details not to be added to the edited electoral register when you fill out an electoral form. Tick the box that says ‘opt out’ of the open register - this is a list of people and addresses that can be bought and used for sending junk mail.

Contact the sender directly

If you want to stop getting mail from a particular sender, contact them directly and include the following:

  • your full name and address
  • the date
  • the sentence “please stop processing my personal data for direct marketing purposes in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998”
  • a reasonable date that you want the organisation to stop sending you mail, such as a month from when you send the letter

Return to sender

If you get junk mail with a return address on the envelope, you should:

  • write “unsolicited mail, return to sender” on the envelope
  • post it – you do not have to pay

The Bereavement Register

To reduce the amount of direct mail posted to deceased relatives, register with the Bereavement Register:

The Bereavement Register, Freepost, Sevenoaks, TN13 1XR
Phone: 0800 082 1230 - 24 hour automated registration service
Email: help@thebereavementregister.org.uk
Visit the Bereavement Register website.

By signing up for these services, you may not receive important information from organisations such as your local council. 

What else can you do to cut down on junk mail?

  • when filling in your details on forms, remember to look for the tick box to stop advertising being sent to you
  • if you give your contact details over the phone make sure you tell them not to send you marketing mail or give your details to anyone else
  • put a sticker on your letterbox or door requesting that no unsolicited mail be delivered
  • use online services and stop receiving paper bills and statements
  • recycle any mail you still receive through your kerbside collection or at household waste recycling centres and bring bank facilities