Rescue, Repair, Reuse: Giving New Life To Old Items

In order for our planet to restore itself, we must become better at reusing what we have, instead of always looking for the “new”. There are now many places looking to help us do just that, from repair cafés to second-hand stores, the UK offers more great opportunities to give new life to pre-loved belongings than you may know.


Led by consumerism and convenience, we have unfortunately become the ‘throwaway society’ that opts for the fastest solution to our commercial needs. This is not to say that many people are not trying to better their shopping habits but still as a whole society, we have been bought into the belief that what is not new, is no longer any good. It is this mindset that has resulted in the UK generating around 222.2 million tonnes of waste in 2018, which is severely dangerous to the future of the earth’s wellbeing.

Not only this but throw-away culture creates a huge strain on the world’s resources. For thousands of years, we have been relying on the same finite resources to run factories and commercial industries. Once we use these all up, there will not be a magic replenishment of it, for us to take from again. That will be it. Therefore, once the energy source ceases to exist, so does our ability to make new “stuff” to buy.

So, what do we do?

As worrying as it sounds, there is actually a lot that we can do to change the course that we are currently on, and it all begins with changing our mindset. Take for instance the ‘make, do, and mend’ motto that came during WW2 when rationing meant that people had to make the most of what they already owned. With limited supplies at their disposal, people learned the importance of taking care of what they already had and reusing what would probably have once been thrown away.


We now, as a population, face similar tribulations that those faced during the war as resources and supplies are becoming extremely scarce. By re-using what is already available to us and make do and mending what already exists we could help lighten the strain that the earth is currently under. There are so many ways to extend an item’s life through a circular economy, which ensures that a product does not just go to waste.

Programmes such as BBC’s The Repair Shop have brought much greater attention to the importance of caring for our personal belongings. However, it doesn’t have to only be items with sentimental value that we look after and hold on to. Everything that we own has the ability to withstand the test of time, as long as we put value into it and care for it like it were a family heirloom. Following the three R’s to a more sustainable future can be simple if you just know-how.

Here are some handy ways that we can all ensure our products receive the longest life cycle


Bringing people together to repair all household items, Repair Cafés are a humble mixture of community spirit and conscious living. Starting in 2007 by Martine Postma in a local café in Amsterdam, there are now over 2,200 Repair Cafés all over the world that help people learn invaluable skills to give their items a new lease of life. The organisation is completely non-profit, so all repairs are free, and the skilled helpers work purely on a volunteer basis.

They will guide you through what they do so that you then have the skills to hand for any future occasion. Even if you do not have any items of your own that you wish to repair, the Repair Café opens its arms to welcome visitors who wish to come for a cup of tea or coffee and watch and learn from others. From old furniture to coffee machines, they can help with just about anything. To find a café near you, just take a look at the map.

Second Hand Electronics

Electronics have become some of the most discarded items that we own, due to the constant demand for newer and updated models. Take for instance the iPhone, a product that roughly 1 billion of the world’s population own, has an updated version released every 12 months. This then creates an extremely high turnover rate for phones and an extraordinary amount of waste. Hence why in 2019, 53.6 million tonnes of E-Waste were produced.


Shopping secondhand when buying electronics is a great way to minimise E-waste and save on cost. Alternatively, re-using electronics within households can also keep their lifespan going. Giving old phones or laptops to family members, or even taking them to charities shows compassion for others and our planet.

Being frugal with what you have

One of the easiest ways to reuse is by implementing it into your everyday life, with small items that you have. For instance, saving any plastic bags that have been bought in the past, so that they can be reused. Reusing takeaway containers, or buying eco-friendly containers and asking your local takeaway to put the food in those containers instead of the plastic ones. By being crafty and creative, almost all household waste can be turned into a unique new item – old glass candles can be washed out and used as storage for make-up remover pads, tissue boxes can be used to store old carrier bags or bin liners, toilet roll cardboard can be converted into electronics cable holders, and so on.

All of these wonderful ways of reusing items are also economically savvy. In a time of financial difficulty, when the cost of everything seems to be rising, why not help yourself and your planet by rescuing, repairing, and reusing what we already have at our fingertips. Everything in our lives deserves to be loved.