Skip to main content

Reduce and reuse

Reducing waste and extending the life of unwanted items is better for the environment than recycling or disposal.

Many household items can be reused or repaired. Including clothes, electrical appliances, toys, furniture and others. This helps to make sure resources used in the production of items stay in use for longer and fewer raw materials are used for new products.

Explore the different options for reducing your waste.

Recycling is great, but reducing, reusing and repairing is even better!


  • Think before you buy – the first step to reducing waste is eliminating unnecessary purchases. Do you really need that 2 for 1 offer or will it end up being thrown away? Do you need a new item of clothing or could you re-wear something you already own? Can you borrow or buy second hand instead of something brand new? 
  • Zero waste shopping:  
    • Buy fruit and veg loose to avoid unnecessary packaging. This also gives you greater control over how much you buy and so helps to avoid food waste.  
    • Try using soap bars, shampoo bars or refillable options to cut down on plastic waste. 
    • Explore zero-waste shops throughout Devon. 
  • Buy items that will have a longer life than disposable items, such as rechargeable batteries and use real crockery and cutlery for your parties instead of disposable ones. 
  • Avoid single use items such as face wipes, cotton pads and razors and look for more sustainable and long-lasting alternatives. 
  • Use Tupperware or reusable wax wraps to store and cover food rather than cling film or foil. 
  • Use the Mailing Preference Service to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. 
  • Sign up to paperless billing or banking 
  • Check out Love Your Clothes for advice on how to care for your clothes to make them last longer, ‘upcycling’ your old garments and what to do with clothes you no longer want. 


  • You can reuse clothes, furniture, toys, white goods and more: 
    • Explore the great range and quality of items available through charity shops or donate your own items for others to enjoy
    • Use websites like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Freegle to donate, sell or buy pre-loved items. 
    • Consider renting outfits for special occasions
    • St Lukes offers a free furniture collection service (furniture, furnishings, kitchenware, small electricals and appliances) 
    • The Devon & Cornwall Furniture Reuse Project collect and accept white goods such as fridges, freezers and washing machines.  
    • The British Heart Foundation’s Plymouth Furniture and Electrical Store will take reusable furniture, electricals and other items that you no longer need 
    • Swap and exchange clothes at local events and jumble sales
  • You can also share and borrow from Plymouth’s library of things
  • Switch to reusables for: 
    • Shopping bags, bottles and coffee cups – there’s loads of great reusable options available. 
    • Download the Refill App. This will tell you where you can refill your water bottle, get food without packaging, and even where you can get a discounted drink when you take your reusable cup.  
    • Nappies – Find out more at the Plymouth Nappy Library
    • Consider looking into reusable period products like menstrual cups, period pants and reusable pads. Period products are expensive, contain plastic and we throw away 4.3 billion single use period products in the UK every year. 
  • Repurpose empty jars, bottles and boxes: take them to the zero-waste shop to refill with new products or use them to store things around the home. 
  • Reuse wrapping paper and gift bags. 
  • Old clothing, sheets and towels that cannot be repaired or donated can be cut up and turned into useful cleaning cloths. 


  • Visit local repair groups (such as the Plymouth Repair Cafe) so you can love your stuff for longer. 
  • Don't forget there are repair shops on the high street – from shoes to phones there’s often a good option closer than you think. 
  • Check the company you bought the item from – some offer a free or paid repair service or will simply fix something under warranty. 
  • Join online repair discussion forums so you always have a community at hand to ask for advice on fixing and local repair activities – try Facebook Repair and Share Network and Reddit Fix it - but there are many more.  
  • Find ways to upcycle rather than recycle via: 

Food waste

  • Reduce food waste 
  • Build new good food habits, such as planning and storage, to get greater value from your food. 
  • Live by the motto - Buy what you eat and eat what you buy. 
  • Use a shopping list so you buy what you need and avoid unwanted extras. If you like using apps, you’ll find plenty that will help you with this.  
  • Freeze leftovers to make them go further. Visit the Love food, hate waste website for tips on storing, freezing, and reheating your food.
  • Get creative in the kitchen to deal with extra or less familiar ingredients. There are plenty of ideas on the internet! 
  • Compost your kitchen and garden waste to create nutrient rich compost for your garden. Find out more via RecycleNow 
  • Understand the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates. If it’s past its best before date, it’s still good to eat, just make sure you do so before the use by date.  
  • If you cannot consume food in time, why not share it with others! Give away surplus food via: 
    • Food banks: Please check the requirements for your individual local food banks as they may vary.  
    • Food sharing apps: Olio, Too Good to Go to name a few.