Give twice this Christmas, Environment Agency appeals

PUBLISHED: 14:01 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:04 17 June 2010

REUSING goods will ensure goodwill for charities and the environment this Christmas The Environment Agency and Oxfam are urging the UK public to give twice this festive season by ensuring their unwanted clothes, books and household items are reused by cha

REUSING goods will ensure goodwill for charities and the environment this Christmas

The Environment Agency and Oxfam are urging the UK public to give twice this festive season by ensuring their unwanted clothes, books and household items are reused by charity shops - while also relieving pressure on the environment.

Research undertaken by Oxfam and Marks and Spencer earlier this year showed that there are unworn clothes worth more than £4.7 billion gathering dust in the nation's cupboards. While the Environment Agency estimates that more than 1million tonnes of clothes and other textiles are sent to landfill every year - contributing to the greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.

Environment Agency Head of Waste, Liz Parkes, said: "We need to reduce, reuse and recycle before we ever consider throwing things away. It's crazy that quality clothes, books and household items - that are being replaced by Christmas presents - end up in landfills rather than being reused through charity shops.

"We have tough but important targets to divert biodegradable materials from landfill in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, by keeping our precious materials in productive use for as long as possible, we need to extract fewer raw materials from the environment.

"We all know the importance of buying products such as plastic bottles and cans that are made from recycled materials - but you can also reduce your environmental footprint by buying reusable items like clothes and books from charity shops."

Oxfam generates more than £20 million each year by selling donated items through its 730 shops in the UK - and in the process ensures that thousands of tonnes of unwanted clothes, books and other items are reused rather then cluttering up the nation's wardrobes and shelves.

Oxfam's deputy director of trading Barney Tallack said: "Every January people around the UK clear out their homes, and Oxfam can make good use of many of these unwanted items to make money to tackle poverty .

"We are in urgent need of clothes, books and household items - and as the credit crunch takes hold, we need them more than ever. It doesn't cost anything to donate items to Oxfam, but the money we raise from them makes a colossal difference and really does save lives."

The recent downturn in the recyclable materials market means this Christmas/New Year period is an important time to reduce waste and reuse goods, even before recycling.

Ms Parkes, continued: "Prices for materials on the recycling market have stabilised and more materials are moving through the export market than they were a month ago. People can be confident in using the recycling service provided by their local authority, but at the same time they need to ensure quality items are reused - producing an even better outcome for the environment.

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