By Marra Hensby, Finder Blogger: The Eco Expert, founder of My Pure Earth
If you're planning to throw out a whole load of junk after cleaning your home, consider these options instead of trashing them.
When I think of the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year in Singapore, I think of the lights in Chinatown, festive markets filled with treats, lion dance troupes, hong baos being exchanged and wishing trees being filled. It's a beautiful time of year when Singapore streets are festive and many people spend their time catching up with family and friends.
But aside from the awe-inspiring lights and tasty treats, there is another tradition that many dread - decluttering and cleaning our homes. This is the time of year when our trash chutes see the most action, but it's time to change that.
While many items have outlived their usefulness to you and your family, there are many families and charities around the island that would love to receive your items. Moreover, many items that we are too quick to throw away can now be recycled in new recycling programmes that are sprouting up around us. Below are a few of the charities that are in need of our used goods, new(ish) recycling programmes and a great online site that helps people find a new home for almost anything.
This charity has been in Singapore since 1935 and their programmes help children, families and the elderly in need. They accept items that are in good condition and then sell them in their retail shops to raise money for their various programmes. You can drop off clothing, furniture, household goods, electronics, toys and books to a number of locations around the island. If you would like to donate large items that are in good condition, they will even come and pick them up from you, but please consider the (optional) donation of $60 to cover their costs.
To see a full list of drop off locations and thrift stores, click here.
2. HOME (Humanitarian Organization of Migrant Economies)
This organisation works to help migrant workers in Singapore, some of whom have been victims of human trafficking or forced labour. You can donate household items such as food (rice, cooking oil, condiments, coffee, etc.), cleaning products, laundry detergent, and towels and toiletries to help migrant workers living in the HOME shelters. They also run HOME Academy, which provides vocational skills courses for migrant domestic workers. HOME is always looking for items that can be used during training, such as computers, healthcare equipment and household appliances.
If you are like me and have that one junk drawer in your home that is filled with old cell phones, outdated point-and-shoot cameras and a massive ball of old electric cords, then this is the recycling programme you have been waiting for! The Funan E-waste (which stands for electrical and electronic waste) programme accepts everything from electric cords to laptops. All you have to do is drop off your items to the customer service counter on Level 1. I stopped by to ask them more about their programme and they confirmed that they accept single use batteries (the stack of AAA batteries that power your aircon remote, etc.)! I've spent the greater part of four years trying to find a battery-recycling programme in Singapore, so this was a huge score and yes, there was a bit of a happy dance.
For more information on Funan's E-waste programme and a full list of what they accept, click here.
If Funan Mall isn't a regular destination for you, maybe the RENEW (REcycling Nation's Electronic Waste) programme will be a better fit. The programme is sponsored by Starhub, TES-AMM (an e-waste recycling company) and DHL, who handles the logistics of collecting the e-waste. You can recycle almost any electronic item with this programme and you don't have to be a Starhub customer to participate. The only catch is that your items must fit through the bin's slot, which is 470mm by 120mm. The great news is that there are currently 234 RENEW bins in 180 locations around the island. Click here to find out more about the programme and look under "List of RENEW Bin Sites" to find a drop off point near you.
For other e-waste programmes in Singapore, check out the NEA's list of E-waste recycling programs here. There is even a programme that accepts used Ink & Toner Cartridges called "Project Homecoming".
SGFREECYCLE is a great example of how social media can help us be environmentally-savvy. This is a Facebook group where you can give almost anything away for free. I've even seen stacks of old magazines, mooncake boxes and shoelaces find a new home. There are also generous families giving away electronics, beautiful furniture and many more fantastic items. It's a non-profit site that is all about re-use and no item is too big or too small. All items must be free and most items are marked as "self collect". Join the group by clicking here and start posting your used goods.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
About Marra Hensby
With a background in corporate sustainability, Marra also has a master's degree in Environmental Management from the National University of Singapore. She started My Pure Earth in 2015, and hosts workshops to teach people (and, yes, their helpers) how to make chemical-free cleaning and beauty products as well as pure pest-control solutions. She'll blog about these topics and more.