Earth Week 2024- tackling the cost of living crisis through reuse

Posted on the 18th April 2024

Earth Week 2024 – Tackling the Cost of living crisis through reuse

Earth Week is all about taking action to ensure a better and brighter future for all. This Earth Week we are shining a spotlight on our commercial partners and taking a look at the incredible impact these partnerships are making in helping to tackle climate change and alleviate poverty.   

Reuse Network’s dedicated commercial team works to develop valuable relationships with suppliers, housing associations, retailers, and manufacturers to help divert items that would have otherwise been wasted into the homes of people who need them. By working across sectors, we are able to make the connections needed to support our communities in living more sustainably. 

Partnering with L&Q to support people and planet 

In February 2024 we began working with L&Q, a leading housing association and developer committed to providing quality affordable homes which gives people the chance to live a better life. L&Q reached out for support with a clearance of surplus domestic appliances. Due to the size of the project, Reuse Network has been able to organise and facilitate multiple collections with our national network of charities. Reuse Network members from South Wales, Milton Keynes, Newbury and London have worked hard over the past few weeks to quickly and professionally clear the location to ensure that the unwanted items remain in use and are distributed to low-income households. 

The donated items from L&Q helped support 284 households; saving these households an estimate of £53,250; and prevented 10,338 kg of CO2 emissions. 

The project has been a huge success thanks to the hard work of both the L&Q team and Reuse Network members who have worked together to maintain a smooth process which has resulted in these items being reused – helping both people and planet. 

Hannah Jordan, Commercial Manager at Reuse Network said

“This project would not have been possible without the support of Sarah-Jane Gwynn, Bobby Johnstone, and the team. The teams have consistently shown respect for the charities that attended the sites and demonstrated a true understanding of these reuse charities’ impact on their local communities. The stories that have come from this project give a real picture of the depravation being faced in our communities and how these items have made a difference”.

 

Vince Monaghan, Project Director at L&Q said,

“At L&Q, one of our core values is ‘Impact’, which means we measure what we do by the difference we make. This doesn’t just apply to building new homes, but also improving people’s homes and circumstances wherever we can. We were therefore proud and delighted to partner with Reuse Network, who share our values and our social mission and we are extremely pleased with the impact of the campaign”.

Impact in the community 

As the cost of living crisis continues to unfold across the country, Reuse Network members have found themselves on the front lines of tackling this worsening crisis. The charity reuse sector is facing unprecedented demand from households in the community who are in desperate need of furniture and electrical appliances. When a low-income household washing machine breaks, the cost to replace it plus ongoing launderette fees puts more pressure on families who are already in difficult financial situations. 

Community Furniture Project is a Reuse Network member based in Newbury. The organisation promotes independent living by providing reused furniture and household goods, as well as creating opportunities for volunteering, training and work experience. 

Image of a woman pulling a washing machine on a trolley

The Community Furniture Project received 36 high-quality washing machines through the project with L&Q. The washing machines have been distributed through the charity’s Essential Household Goods Support Scheme which works to help local adults and families receive furniture, white goods and essential household items free of charge. 

As a result of the cost of living crisis, the Community Furniture Store has seen a change in the demographic it is supporting through the Essential Household Goods Support Scheme. Despite the relative affluence of West Berkshire, poverty is rising in the area. Individuals and families who had previously managed to live comfortably can no longer afford to replace costly essential items such as washing machines. It was recently reported by The Guardian newspaper that more than 1 million children either sleep on the floor or share a bed with a sibling or parent, with many turning to charities or council schemes for help”. This hardship is now becoming ‘locked in’, with the disparity between income and the cost of maintaining a basic standard of living becoming a long-term reality rather than a short-term crisis for many. 

Thanks to the generous donation from L&Q, the Community Furniture Project has been able to fulfil more referrals and ensure that local families now have access to much-needed washing machines. 

A few examples of vulnerable people who have been supplied with washing machines include: 

  • A woman who had left her previous property due to an abusive relationship and had spent a period of time homeless. She had been provided with a property but had no savings with which to furnish it. The Community Furniture Store supplied a washing machine, as well as furniture and bedding. 
  • A young man suffering with severe depression and epilepsy who had been staying in his mother’s mobile home. When she passed away, he was not able to remain there as he is under 55. West Berkshire Council’s Homeless Team arranged a hotel until they could house him. When he was allocated a flat, the Community Furniture Store provided him with a washing machine as well as all the other essential items he needed.  
  • A man with MS who uses a wheelchair had been relying on his elderly mother to collect his washing and take it home to wash. She was finding it difficult to manage, so the Community Furniture Store were pleased to supply him with a washing machine. 

If you’re a commercial organisation looking for ways to extend the life of your products, or maybe you’re looking for ways to incorporate reuse into your ESG goals, get in touch with us here at Reuse Network to chat. 

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