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What Do You Do With Pre-Loved Items?

Do you have a stack of old books collecting dust on your cupboard? A heap of worn clothes burgeoning out of your wardrobe? Or furniture you planning to replace?

As we march into a new year, spring cleaning is in order. Old items that no longer spark joy are cleared to make way for new ones. Instead of keeping things that are not used or discarding good-condition items into the bin – there is a better way to channel your pre-loved items.

There are places and organisations ready to receive and repurpose your pre-loved items. Before you start packing those items, here are some tips to consider and the best places to bring them to.

BOOKS

Source: Unsplash

From 2001 to 2019, a total of 386 million hectares of forest were lost globally. 42% of them is harvested to make paper. What’s more, our landfills comprise 26% of paper[1].

Donating or swapping books is more sustainable for the environment. Your books are given a second life when the next reader gets to indulge in the words you once read. 

  1. Books On The Move has book ninjas hiding books around the city. They are constantly on the look for more books.
  2. Bargain Basement is a retail establishment that resells pre-loved items and channel the proceeds to charity. They accept fiction, non-fiction, and comics
  3. The Book Effect is on a mission to collect 10,000 books to build libraries for orphan homes and refugee centres across Klang Valley.

Best practices when donating books: A rule of thumb is to avoid donating water-damaged books. Soaked pages tend to stick together and are hard to flip. Sort through the stack to avoid accidentally giving away precious items like photo albums, yearbooks, and diaries. 

You can also organise them by genre, common categories are fiction and non-fiction. Of course, you can have fun in your own made-up categories too! Some book collectors might not accept magazines, religious books, or textbooks depending on the focus of their organization. Do check with the changemakers before dropping off your donation.

DIGITAL AND ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES

Source: Damrong Rattanapong/Shutterstock

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, it is estimated that Malaysians generated 364 kilotonnes (kt) of E-waste in 2019, an average of 11.1 kilogrammes (kg) per capita. A good majority of e-waste ends up in landfills where harmful materials like sulphur, mercury, and beryllium oxide leak into waterways[2].

Fortunately, a number of eco-conscious companies and organisations are around to make the recycling process safer and easier.

  1. UrbanR Recycle+ collects all sorts of recyclables, but specialises in big and small electronics.
  2. Pertubuhan Amal Seri Sinar (PASS) offers pick-up service, they also accept other household items too.
  3. Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia collects consumer appliances at their recycling point which operates monthly on the third Sunday.
  4. T-Pot Electrical and Electronics has a recycling program in place to collect and dispose of spoiled electronics, parts, and scraps.
  5. IPC Recycling & Buy Back Centre has a drop-off point in IPC Shopping Mall car park that accepts e-waste and other recyclables.
  6. Senheng’s e-Waste Recycling Program offers cash voucher for non-bulky e-waste and free pick up service for bulky items

Best practices when digital or electronic items: Before you rush off to grab your old blender, first create a list of e-waste items you are planning to dispose of. There are 9 types of e-waste ranging from small and major electronics to computer and telecommunication appliances[3].

Remove batteries from the remote devices as they may need to be recycled separately. You are also advised to delete all personal information from your electronics before putting them on the pile.

Once categorised, evaluate the items based on their condition. Usable ones will be refurbished and donated while those broken beyond repair will be dismantled.

Clothes and Fabric

Source: San Jose Recycles

When you discard your out-of-style clothes or misfitting clothes – do you know where it will all end up? It all goes to the landfill making up 5% of our total solid waste. It is estimated that Malaysians produce up to 2000 tonnes of textile wastes and other wearable products daily[4]

Reuse is always the more appropriate option to deal with unwanted clothes. Consider using that worn t-shirt as a rag or floor mat. If you are crafty and creative, you can also turn your unwanted jeans into a denim pouch or your oversized tee into a tote bag.

Alternatively, you can opt to donate them to changemakers or companies that will give them a second life. 

  1. Community Recycle for Charity (CRC) has 400 drop bins located across Klang Valley. You can locate them using their map. 
  2. Red Shield Industries is the social enterprise arm of The Salvation Army. Pre-loved items will be retailed at their Family Thrift Store.
  3. Kloth Cares has more than 280 fabric collection bins installed in Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan, and Melaka. They also offer advice on how to properly donate fabrics.
  4. Kedai BLESS is outlet store that collects and sells preloved clothes in their thrift stores.
  5. H&M runs a Garment Collection Program that gives donors a cash voucher with 2 bags of clothes

Best practices when donating clothes: If you are considering depositing your clothes in Kloth Care Bins, here are a few tips. The Care Bins accept garments (including clean and good condition undergarments), clothing accessories (eg. hats, belts, gloves), footwear, and bags. Other household fabrics such as curtains, towels, pillows and kids’ plushies are also welcomed.

Regardless of where you are donating, make sure your clothes are not soiled or wet as they can contaminate other fabrics easily. Clear out loose change or receipts from the pockets. Kloth Cares Bins accept clothes deposited loosely, in a bag or bundled. Clothes in good condition will be channelled to communities in need or when there is a relief effort (eg. floods).

Furniture

Source: Backyard Bins

It is perhaps a common sight in Malaysia to have unwanted furniture piled on a curb or under a tree, expecting the rubbish collector to get rid of them. Cupboards, couches, and bed frames are obvious to be seen in landfills owing to their size.

Most furniture is wood-based. While it is true that wood is biodegradable, the conditions created in landfills are not ideal for breakdown wood. It takes up to 13 years for a standard wooden chair to fully decompost[5].

Furniture recycling is not as common in Malaysia. Still, there are a few changemakers on the ground trying their best to rehome your furniture.

  1. Community Recycle for Charity (CRC) accepts furniture in their drop bins too.
  2. Pertubuhan Amal Seri Sinar (PASS) offers pick up service for bulky furniture.
  3. Beli Nothing Project is a series of self-organised groups for giving away pre-loved items. Different localities will have its own Facebook group.
  4. Red Shield Industries also accepts usable furniture to be resell in Family Thrift Store.

Best practices when donating furniture: Charity-based organizations like CRC and PASS collect furniture in usable condition and give them to needy communities. Fully recycling furniture can be hard, the best way is always to find them a new owner. If your furniture is only lightly used, try asking around your neighbours to see if anyone is interested to take it or try selling it on sites such as Carousell or Mudah.

Flea Market

Source: Sam Tham/The Star

For those who are more business-savvy, participating in a flea market is a good way to get rid of your unwanted items while making a quick buck. Pop-up flea markets can be found in and around Klang Valley. Famous among them is the annual Preloved Is Reloved market hosted by APW Bangsar. 

If you are considering to set-up a booth, here are a few tips:

  1. Get a business partner. Running a booth needs more than one person: promoting, customer servicing, and of course moving and setting up
  2. Find a good spot. Getting a strategic location is key in driving traffic to your booth. If booth bidding is allowed by the organiser, secure a spot as early as you can.
  3. Decide what to sell. What exactly do you want to get rid of? Packing similar items in a bundle can make them more marketable.
  4. Price the goods. Knowing the value of your items gives you an idea of their price. Although used items are generally cheaper, it is good to have a bottom price yourself.
  5. Manage customers. Going the extra mile for the customer can increase your odds when bargaining. Throwing in an extra gift can make the deal more lucrative for your customer while helping you to clear off more stuff.

Selling pre-loved items is not limited to physical booths. There are apps and websites that cater to preloved items. 

  1. Carousell is an already popular market place website with ever-expanding inventory
  2. Shpock is a flea market in your pocket where buyers can negotiate prices.
  3. Closetstyles is marketplace app for women to buy and sell pre-loved clothes

We hope you found this article useful and we hope that your pre-loved items end up in the homes and places that most need it.

Explore Our Sources:

  1. The World Counts. (2022). Paper Waste Facts. Link.
  2. Forti V., Baldé C.P., Kuehr R., Bel G. (2020). The Global E-waste Monitor 2020: Quantities, flows and the circular economy potential. United Nations University (UNU)/United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – co-hosted SCYCLE Programme, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) & International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). Link.
  3. Sobri. D. (2021). e-Waste management in Malaysia: Where and how to dispose of electronic and electrical appliances. iProperty.com.my. Link.
  4. Kloth Data. (2019). Keep Fabrics Out of Landfills. Kloth Cares. Link.
  5. Fleming, E. (2021). How long does it take for wood furniture to decompose? SidmartinBio. Link.
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