10 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Furniture in London
Help Give Furniture a Second Life
Ever wondered how best to save your old sofa, kitchen table or chest of drawers from going to landfill if you live in London? Want to know where can you take or who can you give unwanted furniture that's too good for the dump? Here is our ultimate guide to everything you ever wanted to know about furniture reuse and furniture recycling in London.
- Furniture reuse in London
- Ask your nearest and dearest
- Online marketplaces
- Freegle & Freecycle
- Furniture reuse charities
- House clearance shops
- Trade buyers
- Auction houses, markets and car boot sales
- Reuse bay at your CA site
- Upcycle your furniture
- LoveJunk marketplace
1. Furniture Reuse in London
The key to giving an item of furniture a second life is finding someone who's prepared to take it off your hands. And the willingness of someone to take it will depend on the cost to them of collection and their perceived value of the item.
Despite the wide range of furniture reuse options listed below, in practice they all fall into one of the following routes:
- Sell - your item is so valuable that another person is willing to pay for it and cover the cost of collection
- Donate - your item is valuable enough that another person is willing to pick it up for free, but not pay you extra for it (or you choose to waive that extra value because you wish to support the recipient).
- Pay to have it collected - your item isn't valuable enough for someone to collect it for free (or you choose to subsidise their cost because you wish to support the recipient)
2. Contact your Nearest & Dearest
Before using fancy online marketplaces or contacting local charities, don't forget your friends and relatives. Might someone you already know (or someone they know) like your old armchair or coffee table you're planning on throwing out? Maybe they've got kids starting college or moving into a new flat and just want some cheap, basic furniture to start with. Wouldn't it be great to give something to a friend or a friend of a friend, before offering stuff out to the wider world? These days it sometimes seems almost embarrassing to give second-hand items to friends or relatives. But it really doesn't have to be. Just take a photo and share it with your network.
In a similar vein, 'near' but maybe not quite so 'dear', an older school way of passing things on for reuse is to place the item outside your home with a sign on it so locals can take it. We've all seen cars with a sticker in their window saying FOR SALE £xxx. Well, the same approach works with sofas and other furniture items provided
a) the item is clean and good quality
b) it's not raining
c) your price is low or preferably zero
d) you live on a road with plenty of footfall. But of course, having an old sofa in your front garden with a big sign saying 'SAVE ME' may be to everyone's taste!
3. Online Marketplaces
Instead of offering old furniture items to your nearest and dearest, you could consider extending the net of giving a little wider. If so, the following marketplace sites are ideal.
LoveJunk - an online marketplace for junk disposal and reuse. If you've tried to donate or sell your item with no luck, then snap a photo and list it on LoveJunk!
eBay - the original online market for selling (and buying) stuff, eBay connects you to buyers of second-hand goods from all around the world
Facebook marketplace - similar to eBay, Facebook marketplace is the offshoot of the infamous social network for selling things you no longer need
Nextdoor - all about community, Nextdoor connects you to people and businesses in your neighbourhood. If you're too shy to put a sign on your sofa outside your front door, then maybe Nextdoor's for you
Shpock - similar to eBay, but newer and seemingly with a bigger advertising budget, Shpock is arguably best suited for selling smaller stuff than furniture. But we've included it here because the world changes so fast, perhaps they'll buy eBay tomorrow!
Village - not sure about these guys but seemed a bit mean to exclude them from the party. They're a sort of Nextdoor mixed with Freecycle mixed with Shpock - but of course, if you mix too many ingredients in one bowl, sometimes it doesn't taste so great.
4. Freegle and Freecycle
If you would like to give stuff directly to another person for free (rather than a charity or social project) then the two big players in the market are Freecycle and Freegle. Freecycle is global but has local groups all over the world including London. Freegle is the UK only and also has localised groups. Both operate as not-for-profit social enterprises created to facilitate reuse amongst people. No money can pass between users of their sites.
5. Furniture Reuse Charities in London
Other ways to give your furniture away for free in London is through one of the many local charities, social enterprises and not-for-profit projects that specialise in furniture reuse. Below is a list of them with a web link - please let us know if this needs updating by emailing [email protected]. Most of these organisations, depending on their busyness and funding (which can fluctuate quite a lot!), will pick up good quality furniture items from your home for free to either sell them to fund their cause or pass them directly to the people they are supporting. Bear in mind that as a business they will only be able to receive upholstered furniture if it has a fire safety label. NOTE, this is not the case if you donate or sell directly to a member of the public.
6. House Clearance Shops
House clearance shops are specialists in clearing people's homes, typically following a bereavement or downsizing. They come to the property, review all of the items that need to be removed (the person doing this is known as a 'totter' for the more inquiring minds of you) and, depending on the value (and your innocence!), make you an offer to take it away. Sometimes it's a charge, sometimes it's an offer to buy, and sometimes it's a simple 'we'll take it all for free'. House clearance companies make money by acquiring second-hand items for a lower price than they sell them. They generally prefer large clearances rather than one or two items, so if you're just trying to get rid of one or two pieces of furniture, you're unlikely to get great engagement. That said, if you are able to transport an item to their store, then they are often able to agree to a deal on the spot.
7. Trade Buyers
Trade buyers (aka second-hand furniture dealers) are similar in some ways to house clearance companies. They buy low, to sell high. Below are some of the more well known in London that has websites. The problem with trade buyers is that unless you've got something really great, they're not very interested. And when they are interested, they tend to be the last person to offer you the best value! So, although they've been included in this blog post for completeness, arguably they are more relevant if you ever need to BUY some second-hand furniture rather than sell your own.
|Committee of Taste|
|De Sio Furniture|
|Second Time Around|
8. Auction Houses, Markets & Car Boot Sales
If your unwanted furniture item is genuinely valuable, then an auction house may well be for you. Obviously, if it's good enough for Sotheby's or Christie's then, to be honest, you're reading the wrong blog article, but there are a number of less swanky auctions in London that are less high-end items. The most well known are Lots Road Criterion Southgate and Chiswick auctioneers. But bear in mind they charge a hefty commission and the process involved is considerable.
9. Reuse Bay at your Civic Amenity Site
If you have a vehicle (and muscles) to transport your item, several council tips have a dedicated bay for reusable bulky items. In practice, most of these tend to be better suited for appliances than furniture, but call and ask if you are unsure. Often the reuse side is provided by a local charity or social enterprise which means that by dropping off your item you'll be supporting a local cause. Here is a great summary of all the council civic amenity sites in London.
10. Upcycle your Old Furniture
Before considering disposal, you might want to think about upcycling your old furniture. Upcycling can give your furniture a new lease of life and is an easy way to reduce waste and save money. There are lots of how-to videos and blogs online showing people how to revamp old furniture and there are even creative ideas on how to reuse household trash. For Upcycling recycled furniture in London organisations like My Vintage Home and The Loop specialise in up-cycling, re-designing and restoring furniture!
11. LoveJunk Junk Removal and Furniture Reuse Marketplace
So that brings us to our old friend LoveJunk. That's us by the way 🙂 We are the online marketplace for junk disposal and reuse. If you've tried to donate or sell your item with no luck, then snap a photo and list it on LoveJunk. We'll get you matched to your nearest reuse organisation or licensed waste collector in seconds. We verify the waste license, identity, address, and insurance details of every waste collector on the LoveJunk platform and ensure responsible disposal.
Please share this article with your friends to help reduce the amount of good stuff that ends up in the bin. And if you know of any other furniture reuse resources that Londoners would benefit from, please drop us a line at [email protected]. We're always on the lookout for new ideas and suggestions!