Emmaus highlighted the issue during Recycle Now's recent Recycle Week campaign, which celebrates recycling, and educates members of the public on the importance of reusing, reducing and recycling, as well as asking them to think twice when donating an item to a charity shop.
Emmaus supports formerly homeless people by giving them a home, work experience in its social enterprises, funded training and an opportunity to get themselves back on their feet again. There are 29 Emmaus communities across the UK which, unlike most other homelessness services, provide a home for as long as someone needs it. There are also five groups working toward opening accommodation in the future. For many, this support and stability is like the family they don't have, providing a safe environment in which to settle and rebuild their lives. Often this is an opportunity to overcome issues such as addiction, get support with mental health issues or rebuild relationships with estranged family.
Social enterprise is central to the Emmaus model as it provides meaningful work for formerly homeless people while generating vital funds for Emmaus communities. With 85 charity shops and 10 superstores across the UK, Emmaus prevented 12,924 tonnes of items going to landfill between July 2018 and June 2019. There is, however, a darker side to charity donations, with Emmaus communities reporting that 810 tonnes of donated goods were sent to landfill during this time because they were not fit to be sold on.
Simon Grainge, CEO of Emmaus UK said, "It is important for us to support national campaigns such as Recycle Week so that we can encourage our supporters to become actively involved in recycling. The environmental issues we are facing on a national and global scale are frightening, and in the wake of increased awareness we now need to start recycling smarter, not harder.
"Our communities and shops are grateful for the items that are kindly donated. Without these donations, we would be unable to sustain the communities and continue to offer a home for as long as it is needed to formerly homeless people, however, do think twice about whether the item you are donating can be resold or reused. If it can't, and you donate it anyway, it means a cost to our communities and a trip to the tip, pulling away essential funds that could have gone to building more rooms to offer a home to more homeless people. Last year, an Emmaus community spent £47,000 getting rid of items that could not be resold or reused. This amount is unsustainable, and it is therefore important to remember that charity shops are not an alternative to a landfill."
Emmaus is asking the nation to think twice before donating items to charity shops. Ask yourself the following:
• Is my donation clean and functional?
• Can it be sold on?
• Would you buy the item in the condition that it is in?
If you are unsure whether a shop will take donation, call them beforehand and ask.
For further information about Emmaus, or if you would like to find out more about donating, visit www.emmaus.org.uk