The head of the charity Keep Britain Tidy has urged UK consumers to change their habits ahead of Buy Nothing New month in January. The Chief Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, spoke to Circular Online about the plans and goals for the campaign during the coming month.
The organisation aims to break the ever-increasing cycle of consumption and waste by encouraging people to buy fewer new goods and instead buy more pre-used items. It also promotes the re-use and repurposing of items, or repairing them rather than throwing them away to end up in landfill sites.
To help achieve these goals, Keep Britain Tidy will be working with Olio to launch a sharing app that allows users to find and share items with people living locally. It will also be working with sustainability professionals to raise awareness on techniques for repairing items, or the best ways to hire, borrow, or reuse household items.
Ogden-Newton said: “It’s time to connect the dots. Buying new things has an impact on the environment.”
She added: “To tackle the damage done to the planet by our excessive consumption, the focus needs to shift from mindlessly throwing things away to thinking about what we buy in the first place and what we do with things we no longer want or need. We need to stop kidding ourselves that recycling is a solution – it’s a last resort.”
Being more resourceful in the way we treat our possessions is not only better for the planet, but it can also help to save us money. The charity found that last year, which was the debut year for Buy Nothing New Month, 65% of those who took part bought nothing new in January, and 31% bought less than they usually would.
During January 2024, the charity will be sharing advice on how to resist the temptation of online shopping, which can draw people into impulse purchases that are later regretted, but often not returned due to the inconvenience or forgetfulness. The UK is one of world’s richest countries, and produces far more waste than most less developed countries.
Tessa Clarke, CEO and co-founder of Olio said: “We have more than enough ‘stuff’ in our local communities, which is why Olio is thrilled to support the Buy Nothing New campaign. We really hope this campaign will inspire millions more Brits to start sharing instead of shopping.”
She added: “It’s a great way to start the new year – by saving money, saving the planet, and supporting your local community.”
The charity works to help achieve a circular economy that is less reliant on waste and recycling, and more focused on making the best use of what we already have.
Of course, participating in Buy Nothing New Month doesn’t mean avoiding essentials such as groceries, toiletries and medicines, but avoiding any extra luxuries such as toys, fashion items, and homeware products such as cushions and ornaments.