Reuse and share – pass it on and save

Recycling items is great but uses energy and resources to collect, transport and recycle.

Far better is to:

Reduce waste by avoiding creating it in the first place, such as not wasting food, using real nappies and stopping unwanted mail.

Reuse items for alternative purposes, repair them, donate them or share resources to cut waste and save money, materials and energy.

Turn organic waste into compost to use in your garden as a soil improver.

How many of us have bought items we rarely use or only need for a short time? Whether it’s the latest kit to try a new sport or hobby on a whim, or buying tools for a DIY project never to be used again, sharing offers a greener solution.

There are different styles of share initiatives – from online swaps and loans to physical libraries lending a range of items.

Want to help your community get involved?

Try promoting share options, get together with friends or club members to create your own share group, or take inspiration from others to do something bigger for your local area. The easiest way to create your own share group is with friends, family, colleagues or other members of a community club. There are various ways you can pass on information about items you would like to borrow or offer to share – a community notice board, closed (private) Facebook group or email group.

Don’t become a target to thieves. Avoid sharing too much information with people you don’t know or trust. Keep your address private except to people you are happy to share it with.

Share – a library of things

SHARE – a Library of Things in Frome hosts a wide range of items members can borrow for a small charge. SHARE is a partnership project between Frome Town Council, Edventure Frome – school for community enterprise, Cheese and Grain charity and Sustainable Frome. They have learnt a lot in setting up the project and have put together resources and support packages for people who are passionate about starting similar sharing initiatives.

Depending on the interests of your community group and the space available, you may wish to focus on particular types of items. For example

  • toy libraries are great for groups supporting children and young people
  • gardening clubs may be interested in saving money by sharing more expensive tools, like hedge trimmers or shredders
  • hobby and craft clubs share equipment and gadgets to help other enthusiasts

Here are some examples of toy libraries

Wellington Toy Library
CLOWNS Toy Library
Jack in the Box Toy Library sessions, at The Bridge Children’s Centre, Frome
SHARE – a Library of Things has a selection of toys and other items for children.

Instead of throwing usable unwanted furniture and household appliances away, you can arrange to have suitable items collected and re-used by local furniture reuse projects.

Furniture and appliances collected by these groups are provided at low cost to members of the community on restricted incomes. ‘Engage in Alcombe’ has a dual pricing system so everyone can buy furniture for reuse.

Only reusable furniture and appliances can be accepted, although in some cases minor repairs can be undertaken. Items not suitable for reuse can be taken to Somerset’s recycle sites or can be collected for a fee, which you can arrange with via My Waste Services.

Details for reuse groups in Somerset are shown below.


Fair Frome Furniture Bank (operates furniture referral scheme in BA11 area and surrounding villages only)
Fair Frome Centre, Christchurch Street West, Frome BA11 1EB
Phone 01373 488578 or 07718 652991 and ask for Victoria, the Furniture Bank Co-ordinator
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 1.00pm – 5.00pm or Friday 9.00am -1.00pm. Please note Fair Frome Furniture Bank is not open to public for browsing.

Regrettably, FurnEquip (Glastonbury) has now closed. Please consider using other charity outlets below (quality items for fundraising) or you may like to use online giveaway networks.


Sedgemoor Furniture Store closed on 31 August 2017. Please consider using other charity outlets below (quality items for fundraising) or you may like to use online giveaway networks.

Somerset West and Taunton

Engage Furniture Reuse Project Ground Floor, Alcombe Village Hall, Marshfield Road, Alcombe, TA24 6AQ
Phone 01643 707484

Tuesday to Friday 9.30am to 5.00pm
Saturday 10am to 2pm
Closed Monday and Sunday and Bank Holidays

Furnitrust (Home Furniture Services Trust) 37-39 Bridge Street, Taunton, TA1 1TP
Phone 01823 253053 (please also ring this number to check opening times of their Priorswood branch).

Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm

Former Priorswood Library, Eastwick Road, Taunton, TA2 7HD
Phone 01823 253053

Opening times vary due to volunteer availability.  Please call before visiting to avoid disappointment.

South Somerset

Regrettably Furnicare has closed. They thank everyone for their support over the years.

What type of items do the groups accept?

A whole range of furniture and household items, including electrical appliances, can be accepted, but you will need to contact your local reuse group to check if they can reuse your item. Items must be in reasonable condition, and furniture such as sofas must be made of the suitable fire resistant material now required by law.

For a list of items accepted by the Furniture reuse groups, please use the links below.

Accepted furniture
Accepted electricals
Accepted miscellaneous items

Freegle, Freecycle and other free exchange websites are a great way to offer usable items you no longer need, and for others to request them. There are many established local groups in Somerset with thousands of active members – they are worth joining.

Local free exchange groups in Somerset include:

Chard, Beaminster and Bridport Freegle

Chard Freecycle

Exmoor – see Minehead Exmoor Freegle

Frome Freegle

Frome Freecycle

Minehead Exmoor Freegle

Minehead Freecycle

Shepton Mallet, Wells and Street Freegle

Shepton Mallet, Wells and Street Freecycle

Taunton Freegle

Taunton Freecycle

West Somerset Clutter Busters

Yeovil Freegle

Yeovil Freecycle

For links to the national organisations and other local groups around the UK see Freegle and Freecycle

Alternatively, look up your local area Facebook “buy and sell” page.

If you are an active Freegle, Freecycle or similar group in Somerset and are not listed, please email us and we would be pleased to include you on the list.

Under slogan buy it or bring it, just don’t bin it, the Reuse Shop at Taunton’s Priorswood recycling centre opened in 2013 to offer furniture, sports equipment, kitchenware and much more at great prices seven days a week on the same hours as the recycling site. Find it at the Crown Industrial Estate, Priorswood, Taunton TA2 8QY, or phone 07985 438897 to ask about specific items.

Please note:

When materials are deposited at recycling sites, they become the property of site contractor Viridor. Separated materials are sent for recycling or reuse. Suitable waste that cannot be recycled is sent to an energy-from-waste plant in Avonmouth, and the remainder is landfilled.

Due to safety considerations, lack of adequate space and traffic access limitations, items deposited at most recycling sites cannot be taken by or sold to site users.

Most sites have a licensed reuse merchant, with whom special arrangements have been made to reclaim reusable items and sell them. Details are available at each site.

A number of charity shops sell donated good quality furniture alongside bric-a-brac, books and clothing to raise much needed funds.

The British Heart Foundation Furniture and Electrical store in Taunton can offer free collection of unwanted furniture and electrical items to raise funds. Contact them on 0844 248 9122 or visit for queries or to arrange a collection. Dorothy House Hospice Care and a furniture shop in Frome.

St Margaret’s Hospice can offer free collection of furniture, electrical items (not white goods), bedding and linens, crockery, clothing, ornaments, bric-a-brac and other items, if they are of good quality and in working order, though their central booking number 01935 410126.

Most charity shops sell everyday items such as bric-a-brac, CDs, clothing, DVDs and toys, so please consider donating your unbroken and unwanted items to a charity shop rather than sending them to landfill.

A number of charities also collect items like foreign currency, mobile phones, printer cartridges, and stamps which are recycled or refurbished to raise funds.

Ask your local charity shop if they are interested in clean reusable bubble wrap or packaging material for wrapping sale goods.

To find your nearest charity shop outlet, see the Charity Retail Association website.

Scrapstores are a great resource allowing unwanted materials to be reused.  Businesses can donate clean, safe unwanted materials (such as foam off-cuts, textiles and plastic lids).  Scrapstores sell on these materials at a low cost to schools and community groups for reuse in arts and craft projects.

There are three scrapstores in Somerset:

Clowns Scrapstore
Minehead Eye, Minehead, TA24 5BJ
01643 707190

Yeast Scrapstore  Glastonbury
Unit 7 Dyehouse Lane, Glastonbury, BA6 9LZ
01458 832345
Facebook: YeastScrapstore

Yeovil Scrapstore and Community Resource Service
The Community Resource Centre, 27 Market Street, Yeovil, Somerset BA20 1HZ
01935 472407

And outside Somerset county:

The Childrens Scrapstore, Weston-super-Mare
The Motex Centre, Winterstoke Road, Weston-super-Mare, BS23 3YW
01934 416286
Facebook: childrensscrapstorenorthsomerset

There are independent scrapstores all over the UK - see: Scrapstores UK website

Instead of throwing them away, many everyday items can find a new use in the garden.

This is not an exhaustive list but some tips include:

  • Reuse plastic bottles as mini greenhouses to protect tender plants or half bury and use as a water reservoir during the drier months
  • Dry and reuse crushed egg shells around seedlings to protect them from slugs and snails (these will need replacing after it has rained). Coffee grounds are a good deterrent too
  • Use loo roll tubes, yoghurt pots or old fruit trays as containers for seedlings
  • Reuse plastic tubs on the tops of plant canes as eye protectors
  • Use old carpet (preferably natural fibre), sheets of newspapers or lawn cuttings as a mulch or weed suppresser around established plants or when you are establishing a new flower bed
  • Use plastic bottles as home-made bird feeders or bird scarers
  • Reuse old panes of glass to make a cold frame to protect tender seedlings
  • Reuse broken crockery, such as mugs, in the bottom of pots as crocks to help with drainage
  • Line a hanging basket with an old woolly jumper
  • Use cold wood ash (not ash from coal fires) to feed plants – the ash is a natural source of potassium
  • Make leaf-mould every autumn from fallen leaves, which break down into superb potting compost
  • Use old carpet as a ‘lid’ for a compost heap
  • Source or donate unwanted garden tools through Freecycle or Freegle groups – or groups like Tools for Self Reliance or The Tools Shed Project may accept donations of good quality garden or building tools
  • Ask your local garden centre if they accept old plastic flower pots for recycling
  • Finally, make the most of the rain which falls in your garden by saving it in a water butt – you can buy water butts through our home composting offer

Tools for Self Reliance website
Tool Shed Project

Charity fundraisers who collect or deliver large quantities of milk bottle tops (washed clean and free of any paper, rubber or foil inserts or labels) can contact recycling firm GHS Recycling Ltd.

A swap shop is like a cashless bring-and-buy sale. It sometimes has other names “bring and take”, “give or take days”, “free for all” or “Freecycle days”.

Participants do not need to being anything in order to take away goods, and vice versa. However, you may want to limit the number of free items taken per person to avoid abuse from traders looking for cheap items to sell on. Additional items can be sold to participants at your event for a nominal price.

This is a great way for a community to come together, and for local groups to raise their profile. You can use this as a fund-raising idea by asking for donations, charging an entry fee, or selling additional items above the agreed limit for free items.

For more details, download how to run a swap shop.

There are additional tools below to help you organise your event:

Template press release for Freecycle day courtesy of Wedmore Green Group
Risk assesment template (PDF) or Risk assessment template (Word document)
How to make a risk assessment rating courtesy of Somerset County Council
Event poster template version 1 – no electricals or duvets
Event poster template version 2 – add your own exclusions

To use the event poster templates, simply fill in the form boxes for

  • the name of your group and the event
  • the day and date of your event
  • the time of your event
  • the address of the venue
  • on version 2 only, add the items you wish to exclude
  • your web address if you have one at the bottom of the page

If you are using Adobe Reader, you will not be able to save the completed poster, but you can print it. If you have Adobe Acrobat you should be able to save and print.

A swishing party is a fun way to update your wardrobe for free. It is easy to do and it can be as big or small as you want, from a small group of friends to a bustling community event. You choose.

How to hold your own swishing party

Like swap shops (see above), swishing events are great way for a community to come together and for local groups to raise their profile. You can use this as a fund-raising idea by asking for donations, charging an entry fee, or selling additional items above the agreed limit for free items.

Here is a great guide from Alzheimer’s Society to start fund-raising:

Organising a jumble sale