Can Reuse Offer A Better Future?

Craig-Anderson-2Furniture Re-use Network’s chief executive, Craig Anderson OBE, says that reuse is about more than simply saving money and reducing waste. It can have a life-changing impact on those that need it most, as a national newspaper article helped explain


A recent article in The Guardian gave a very personal account of how furniture reuse can help those most in need in our society. The piece was written by Sarah Woolley from Quaker Social Action, who also operate Homestore – a longstanding member of the Furniture Re-use Network.

The article, “As living costs rise, furniture poverty grows behind closed doors”, told a very personal story of one family’s plight as asylum seekers who came to the UK from Asia, and then following eviction and having to “start from scratch” they went on to find much needed access to household goods and furniture through Homestore and this made all the difference. “I couldn’t believe it with my own eyes. My kids were excited because they’d had nearly three months of no furniture. It was simply life saving.”

In the article Sarah described a motivation that is prevalent for many reuse organisations from across the UK who are FRN members; that it’s about more than just savings to customers and reducing waste. When asked to sum it up, one person simply said: “We stopped sleeping on the floor”.

We at FRN uphold this passion to help support change and support people in crisis, and yes… also reducing environment impacts, and we’ve done this for many decades. This passion has been the backbone to our longstanding negotiations with Government Departments, partners in the waste and commercial sector and many other stakeholders, who perhaps have had different drivers and motivations than that of our sector.

But saying that, I believe we are seeing evidence of this limited scope of opinion and motivation to support reuse may actually be changing. The more reasons you can find to get people to do something, the better, and reuse, through the charity and social enterprise sector, comes with a whole host of benefits that bring social, economic and environment change for the better.

Going forward, FRN will continue to encourage businesses, local authorities, government departments and all other interested parties, to use social change as the main motivator for their customers, their residents and their voters, in order to increase the reuse of goods to help people live a better life.

The FRN conference Re-use for a Better Future could not, therefore, have come at a better time. There are societal challenges that the reuse sector needs to address now and although they initially appeared insurmountable – we are coming up with new solutions to counteract these challenges to deliver a change in the social, political and consumerist system. By being active and enterprising we’re seeing a growth in business for the reuse sector, and our commercial partnerships are ensuring we’re getting recognition for our far-reaching value to society and the environment. Various external parties have already identified the true value of a reuse partnership and are seeing huge opportunities for their own future business, influence and impact.

This is what the FRN Annual Conference will address – the promotion of the real impact and the vision for the future of reuse.


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