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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Just the tip of the iceberg

Bed and table

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When was the last time you had to get rid of large furniture, like a bed or a cupboard or a sofa? Or a big appliance like a fridge or a washing machine? What did you do with it - did you pass it on to a friend, or put it out on the verge hoping someone would take it away?

The last time I had to do this was when my husband and I got a new bed to help his back problems. It was so difficult to figure out what to do with the old one - it was clean and in good repair, but it was old and I couldn’t figure out who’d want it. It was tempting to just give up and take it to the tip.

Luckily, we mentioned it to the bed salesman, and he said there was a charity group that took them for hostels and shelters for people at risk. I called the number he gave, and spoke to a lovely chap who organised for a couple of blokes to pick up our old mattress and base. I was relieved we'd done the right thing - I hate to see good things go to waste!

Sometimes it seems easier to just throw things out and let them become someone else’s problem. But just yesterday I was reading that it takes 32 times as much material to make a product than is actually in the finished product that you see. There’s offcuts of fabric, metal, wood and plastic, plus all the polishes and finishes, the packaging for all the parts and the final product... and I can’t even imagine how much paper the companies go through.

It’s like the final product is just the tip of an iceberg, the only visible part of a huge process. We don’t realise how much is wasted when we throw things out. So I’m glad I took the time to do the right thing, and pass on a still-useful product to someone in need.

Plus this way if I ever run into people who make beds for a living, I won’t feel guilty about throwing out someone's hard work :)