by Kate Chesshyre
A recent British Heart Foundation survey reported only two in five adults buy second-hand furniture, whilst nearly half of Londoners admitted they have thrown away good quality furniture, electrical items and homewares rather than donating or selling on. Similar to the rapid growth of ‘fast fashion’ in the last twenty years, the ‘fast furniture’ industry encourages regular home interior updates whilst frequently overlooking the ‘where next’ for discarded short shelf-life purchases.
Hidden away at the end of a quiet residential road close to Squires Garden Centre, the Richmond Furniture Scheme offers an antidote to throw away culture – a treasure trove of second-hand furniture and bric-a-brac. Established in 2010 the Scheme is a charity that collect, restore and sell unwanted furniture across the Borough of Richmond. They provide affordable furniture to those in need through Local Assistance grants; will collect donations free of charge and are passionate about re-using furniture and reducing waste headed to landfill.
Post-lockdown the Scheme received 30 tonnes of donations from the local area over a period of two months from household clear-outs, far more than they usually take in. Equally in this time they have seen an uptake in sales and have been busy restoring and selling on items to the local community. The team of skilled volunteers, including carpenters, up-cyclers and upholsterers, work on items that come in – mending drawers, replacing legs and repainting – to ensure furniture sold is up to standard.
Increasing numbers of people are moving away from buying new in Richmond; recognising the importance of reusing and recycling within the local community. Currently the Scheme is looking to expand and has plans to open a large high street space in Kingston as well as building more storage units at their current site in Twickenham. They are also looking to open their online shop shortly.
The Richmond Furniture Scheme is a brilliant resource for those looking to reduce their household waste in Twickenham and Teddington; equally for finding a beautiful one-off upcycling piece or just a useful bookshelf! If you would like the Scheme to collect any items you are looking to pass on, they are currently booking one month ahead. Please visit richmondfurniturescheme.co.uk for further information.
Beyond the high street charity shops there are also a number of other local charities that will take in a wide range of household items for reuse:
Vineyardcommunity.org – urgently need men’s clothing, sleeping bags, tents and toiletries Thebikeproject.co.uk – take in second hand bikes to be repaired and donated to refugees and asylum seekers – drop off point in Hampton
thehygienebank.com – collecting unopened hygiene, personal care and cleaning products to people that need them throughout the UK – see website for local drop off points
Kate Chesshyre is the owner of The Refill Larder in Teddington