First published: 21/06/2023 -

Last updated: 21/03/2024 -

Verified by our Editorial Panel

Reuse and repair

A little more reusing, repairing and borrowing and a little less buying new are green choices that help reduce waste and save money.

We can give new life to almost everything – from repairing damaged clothes and everyday household items, to our furniture, appliances and electronics. Retaining, renting and repurposing items uses less of our planet’s resources and allows us to get creative and learn new skills.  

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What can we do?

We might not all be able to sew on a button or make furniture out of scrap wood, but perhaps we have a charity shop nearby we can donate unwanted items to, or we can borrow instead of buy. There are always steps we can take to reuse and repair more. Here are a few ideas:

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Rent, borrow or share

items that you only use occasionally. Your friends, family or neighbours might be able to lend you what you need, from clothes to tools, gadgets, and appliances. You can also rent items from your local Library of Things or your local rental store. 

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The longer we keep things in use the less our planet’s natural resources will need to be used to create new. Stop and think before you buy – do you really need a new smartphone or is the one you have now suitable for your needs and working well?

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It’s surprising how many things can be put to alternative use. For example, you can turn jars into drinking glasses, bottles into vases or candle holders, and old t-shirts into cleaning cloths. Just a quick online search for ‘upcycling ideas’ will give you some inspiration. 

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Avoid unnecessary single use packaging and short life disposable products. Try buying unwrapped fresh fruit and if you’re out and about and need a drink, ask for tap water or use a refillable bottle.

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Give the items you no longer need a new lease of life by giving them to friends and family. Donate them to a charity shop or reuse centre, share them with your local community through platforms like Freecycle or Freegle, or sell them online. When you go shopping, make sure you carry your own bag. Wondering if there are disadvantages of reusing plastic bags? Remember that the most sustainable choice is the bag you already have – whether that’s plastic or cloth.

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Repair instead of replacing

Most things can be fixed for free if we do it ourselves or fairly cheaply by professionals in repair stores or cafes. Learn how to repair damaged clothes and everyday household items or take them to a local repair shop. 

Why take action?

We can all play our part in reducing emissions caused by waste. Reusing and repairing are excellent ways to reduce the need for recycling and go even further to minimise what we throw in the bin and our environmental impact. By 2050, everything in Wales will be reused or recycled, with a zero-waste target already set for 2025. Together, we can:

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Help the environment

Not throwing things away quickly and making them last longer reduces the amount of rubbish we throw away; 45% of greenhouse gases come from products we use and purchase. Buying less and reusing more, reduces greenhouse gases and helps nature, as the production of everyday products or buildings requires mining of natural resources as well as space to grow ingredients, which leads to deforestation and destruction of important habitats.  


Save money

Fixing things is usually cheaper than buying new – while buying second-hand clothes or furniture is also less expensive than purchasing new.

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Learn new skills

Reusing and repairing could be a creative way to try new things, gain useful skills, appreciate what we already have and find new uses to make the most of it.

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Conserve our planet’s natural resources

When we reuse or repair, we help save resources like energy and water.

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