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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    All sorts of websites have tried to crack the freecycling issue, but what has Snaply got over eBay and others to make it snappy?

    In the last few years, giveaway community websites such as Freecycle, MySkip, Freegle and LetsAllShare have been popping up, as people realise that a) we throw items away for hundreds of reasons that have nothing to do with their functionality, and b) passing on working items you no longer want is greener and kinder than chucking them away.

    Snaply, which launched nationally last month, is an app thats integrated with the established freecycling website, Freegle. If you have an item you want to give away or sell, you take a picture and upload it with a description. Its automatically added both on the app and on the Freegle website, and your location will be taken from your smartphones GPS and listed. If anyone wants your item, they can request it or ask you a question about it before they decide to take it. So far over 90,000 items have been listed, and they are looking to introduce a one-touch payment system for items you cant let go for free.

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    A consortium's new initiative to loan to governments for recycling might be just another example of 'easy sustainability'

    Walmart and eight of its largest suppliers won big kudos when they announced the creation of their Closed Loop Recycling Fund two weeks ago.

    AG Lafley, CEO at P&G, said the initiative was "good for consumers, and good for the environment" while PepsiCo's CEO, Indra Nooyi called the fund a "novel approach" to the problem of low recycling rates.

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    We brought together a panel of experts to chat about the best ways to reduce the amount we throw away, how to recycle more and what to do with pesky plastic

    Most of us know that we should try our best to recycle or reuse as much as possible but with masses of different types of plastic to familiarise ourselves with, different rules for different boroughs, and seemingly more important matters pressing on our time, recycling and reusing can seem too much like an inconvenience to demonstrate our admirable moral fibre.

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    Based in High Wycombe, once the centre of British furniture-making, Out of the Dark restore and upcycle discarded furniture for leading designers and design fairs. The workforce is made up of troubled teenagers from the local community, who find direction and self-discipline, learn a trade and restore a sense of balance in their lives

    Archive footage courtesy of ercol Continue reading...

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    For decades it meant only charity shops, flea markets or jumble sales, but now reusing goods is finally embraced within national waste strategy

    Video: Out of the Dark is a small organisation specialising in restoring furniture and training young people

    I used to go to the national reuse conferences, remembers Richard Featherstone. Everyone would be saying, The councils not listening. No ones listening. Everyones got other priorities. And that has changed. People want to talk to us. Not only are we approaching councils and housing associations, but they are approaching us. Thats new.

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    It began in Guatemala, and now a South African town is using recycling bottles as building material as part of an inspirational and regenerative campaign against rubbish

    Take a two-litre plastic drinks bottle, a heap of plastic bags, crisp packets and other non-biodegradable waste (roughly one weeks worth of plastic waste), and a stick. Pack the bottle full of the waste materials, packing it as tightly as you can, using the stick. Thats it. You have an EcoBrick.

    Next time you hold a plastic bottle in your hand, try thinking of it not as rubbish to be disposed of, but as the building block for something extraordinary. The story of EcoBricks starts in Guatemala, and takes us, via the Philippines, to South Africa. Susanna Heisse, horrified at the level of plastic waste around Lake Atitlán in Guatemala, first came up with the EcoBrick idea. She built a wall out of them, which became an inspiration to others around the world.

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    How one London cocktail bar has reduced its waste output to just bottle caps, napkin wrappers and 24 glass bottles a week

    A London cocktail bar is remixing a few old-fashioned ideas of what goes into a drink, and what goes into the rubbish. White Lyan, in the East End's Hoxton neighbourhood, prides itself on being a pioneering low-to-no waste cocktail joint.

    It uses no ice, no fresh fruit, and has reduced the number of bottles it sends for recycling to just 24 bottles a week the average bar recycles up to three 300-litre bins' worth.

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    Don't trash those trousers! A patch can give them a new lease of life and will save a few pennies too

    You will need:
    A scrap of fabric to cover the hole
    Needle and thread
    Double-sided, paper-backed fusible webbing (such as Bondaweb)
    Iron and ironing board

    The most common area to need a patch is the knee of trousers. As with most things, there are lots of different ways to patch, depending on the hole, your skill level and the finished look you are going for. I am a big fan of visible mending. I figure that people will probably be able to see the patch regardless of how well I try and hide it, so why not make a feature of it.

    There are no rules for visible mending. You can unleash your creativity and use whatever fabric you like. I like to use patches of my favourite fabrics or, if I'm using the same fabric (ie denim on a pair of jeans), cut it into an easy shape, like a heart or a star. Pick a thread colour that complements, matches or contrasts with your patch and your garment.

    1. The easiest way to patch anything is to use a fusible patch, which you can either buy from a haberdashery, or make yourself. To make your own, cut out a piece of fabric to about 1-2cm bigger than the area you are patching. Cut out a piece of fusible webbing to the same size. Place the webbing patch paper-side down on your ironing board, and then place the fabric patch right side (pretty side) up on top of it, making sure to line them up. Iron for a few seconds to melt the glue and fuse the two layers together.

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    With waste from discarded plastic products a growing problem in Haiti, it is time informal waste-pickers were properly incentivised

    Take a walk through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, and you will be struck by the huge proliferation of litter and waste, from plastic bottles and bags to polystyrene wrappings. Parks and paths are scattered with them; they block the drains and festoon the harbour.

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    In a recent live chat, a panel of waste experts joined us to talk all about recycling, reusing, and the best ways to reduce rubbish

    Not everyone will have the same burning desires to save every single piece of rubbish possible to reuse or recycle. But if you're keen to get those people doing more for the planet you just have to find out what makes them tick.

    To Berta, I've found that finding the motivation is important. We're not all moved to take action by the same things... One person might want to reduce landfill to save money, another might want to protect resources for future generations, another might feel a religious / spiritual impetus to be a good custodian. Perhaps your family is competitive, in which case set yourselves mini competitions or goals. Maybe you're animal lovers and hate to see litter - sit down and have a chat about why you want (or not!) to reduce your waste and see if you can find a common goal / motivation.

    Some fantastic suggestions there Rachel. I'd add to have recycling bins in each room of the house - the easier it is the more people will do it! You could also try slowly removing waste bins until there's only one left in a central area (E.g. the kitchen)

    The thing to remember is no matter how small or how big your contribution is to reducing waste. Each family's contribution adds up and reduces the amount we are killing our planet and the animals that get mixed up in all our waste.

    As a country we do need to be better at it and have better facilities to reduce and recycle. But it is down to people power and without us questing our councils and government why we are not doing more or even just online community chats like this, things will never change.

    Hi Myriam

    There are packaging regulations that encourage companies to do the right thing. They state 3 essential requirements:
    i. Packaging volume and weight must be the minimum amount to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer
    ii. Packaging must be manufactured so as to permit reuse or recovery in accordance with specific requirements
    iii. Noxious or hazardous substances in packaging must be minimised in emissions, ash or leachate from incineration or landfill

    It probably depends on the material. Glass jars are most likely indefinite as long as they are not scratched and you sterilise them. Plastic is more tricky as there are different types which can leach chemicals after time. But as these materials become unfit for food storage you could then downgrade them to holding items around the house like paperclips or art brushes ...

    If you want to recycle things like magazine wrappers and bread bags, check out www.polyprint.co.uk I post them anything they'll take (check their list). I feel I should take responsibility for the materials I attract to me (e.g. when I take out a magazine subscription), so I've no problem in paying for the postage.

    Nurserys always need milk bottle lids - they make great wheels, eyes, buttons, counters - the possibilities are endless!

    As you'll begin to see waste and recycling is a regional challenge. Tetra pak is recyclable but not all local authorities are able to provide services for recycling it. We really encourage you to check your local authority website.

    The recycling process separates the layers and you end up with three fractions - plastics, fibre and aluminium - that can be entirely recycled. Obviously due to it being a composite material it is more challenging to recycle than mono-layer packaging.

    I would be very suprised if we were not opening up existing landfills and mining them to exact rare earth metals in the next 20 years or so as new sources run out - watch this space and other materials will follow...

    Marine litter (technically in my book 'waterfill') is already being collected to make Ecover bottles and Marks Spencer Frisbees

    Hopefully a council that can't offer food waste collection will at least offer a wormery subsidy. Like the others said, there are models for 2 person households that can live indoors. But your best bet is a community composting scheme. Again, urban councils without collections need to be supporting such schemes. We have a successful one here in Brighton & Hove with 30 schemes up and running.

    There are Environment Agency regulations on getting an exemption and registering a site if it is to collect kitchen organics, and strict rules on what can't go in (for example animal products of any sort). I suspect if you're frustrated about binning your kitchen scraps, so are your neighbours. Community schemes are cheap to set up, reduce the council's waste stream, and create a local resource that can be used by growing projects. That's a triple win in my book.

    Surely the key to reducing 'rubbish' and by association the appalling linear mountains of litter strewn along our roadsides, is to tap into our values and how we see the world? If recycling and change only comes because a particular 'waste' product has monetary value, we'll never get there - if that value is lost then we just leave crap where it is. Isn't this whole subject allied in many ways to re-finding our relationship with nature, and showing it/ourselves a little more respect?

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    A reader wants kitchen advice from the real world rather than from a reality TV show!

    Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it's up to you to help him or her out a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday's paper.

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  • 06/09/14--03:28: How to mend old shoes
  • Sole hanging off? Don't throw out those comfy shoes they can be repaired and restored to former glory in a few easy steps

    You will need:
    Rubber soles or stick-on soles (available from shoe repair shops)
    Rough sandpaper
    Shoe repair glue (or glue that is weather and impact resistant with a flexible bond)
    1cm round brush
    Pliers
    Heavy hammer
    Heat gun or hairdryer
    Clamps or elastic bands
    Nail polish remover (with acetone) Stanley knife

    1. To remove and replace old split or worn soles pull the old sole away from the base of the shoe with a pair of pliers. If the sole proves difficult to remove, then use a heat gun or hair dryer to melt the glue holding it in place.

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    Your excellent entries ranged from furniture to fashion, lighting to gardening, but now take a look at the top six and the winner

    See all the entries on GuardianWitness

    We received an astonishing 208 entries to our upcycling competition, hosted on with great pictures on Guardian Witness. This fantastic response ranged from furniture to fashion, gardening to lighting, bags to books.

    After some deliberation, our judges Bebe Bradley of Handmade magazine, Hannah Silvani and Rosie Scott of New Craft Society, Claire Dawson of TRAID, and Emma Herian, a textile artist and blogger narrowed the entries down to a shortlist of six, from which an overall winner was selected.

    Grey wool coat with pinstripe upper, pleated skirt, celtic button & tartan fastening.

    I wish to offer a huge thank you to Scottish Grannies without whom this coat and many others would not exist. Thank you for their investment in quality natural fabrics, their love of tartan & tweed, for supporting local business. For their patient attention to garment care. For donating their beautiful pleated skirts, jackets, trousers & jumpers which have inspired me to upcycle. Your clothes live on!

    Sent via GuardianWitness

    Sent via GuardianWitness

    Old china and ceramics can hold both memories and history, whether from your childhood or in fragments found in lying hedgerows or ploughed fields.

    I use the shards from broken cups and plates to create unique jewellery by reshaping the pieces, smoothing the edges and making silver bezels and fittings. I also try to use recycled silver whenever possible.

    Sent via GuardianWitness

    Sent via GuardianWitness

    This is a make up bag made from cleaned upcycled punctured inner tubes which would normally go into landfill. They have been stitched together and then complimented with contrasting sewing. The lining is an old stripy jumper. As well as being really durable inner tubes also offer a fantastic vegan alternative to leather.

    Sent via GuardianWitness

    My partner Michael Ferguson makes furniture from reclaimed floorboards and sometimes upcycles neglected armchairs he finds on the street like this one. He strips off the dog eaten upholstery and lines the frame with floorboards, keeping their original colour, and then adds a little of his joie de vivre. He works under the business name Not A Wooden Spoon.

    Sent via GuardianWitness

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    Turning dug-up waste into gas or converting rubbish into building materials are among new techniques that may help end landfill

    What do you think happens to the rubbish when you throw it out into the street? asks the Mighty Booshs great realist Howard Moon.

    I dont know, does it dissolve in the rain like a giant Berocca? replies Shoreditch everyman Vince Noir.

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    Startups are embracing circular economy principles and taking on the big players by making safe, locally made toys from recycled straw, sawdust and plastic milk bottles

    Connecticut photographer Jim Barber never fretted about where his kids toys came from until a 2009 news alert reported record lead levels in the toys of three of the nations major toy makers. As Barber joined other concerned parents in removing offending products from their collections, he was shocked to find out how many came from China. Most had to be thrown away, he recalls.

    This very concern later inspired Barbers business, Lukes Toy Factory, a startup making eco-friendly, sustainable and safe toys from recycled, organic materials. Barber and his now adult son, Luke, who designs the toys, use an organic wood composite using sawdust, rice holes and wheat straw waste materials outside the food stream, and combine this with plastic. The toys then feel and act like wooddurable and attractive, and yet contain 40% less plastic than conventional toys, Barber explains.

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    Device made by 3D Systems will go on sale later this year, using cartridges partly made from recycled plastic bottles

    Will.i.am's iPhone camera accessory may not have taken the gadget world by storm, but his next technology product could make more of an impact: a 3D printer that sources its materials partly from recycled plastic bottles.

    The Ekocycle Cube printer is being made by 3D Systems, the US-based manufacturer that announced Will.i.am as its chief creative officer in January this year. Coca-Cola is also a partner in the project, which is an offshoot from its existing Ekocycle venture with the Black Eyed Peas star.

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    In May 2014, hundreds of our readers accepted our challenge to recycle and reuse as much as possible in a week. So, how much did we manage to save from landfill? Continue reading...

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    US city's strict policies on recycling and composting are just some of the measures making a difference

    The trucks start rolling in before sunrise. Dozens of them, each tipping out tonnes of food waste, grass cuttings and foliage. A month from now this organic waste will leave here in the form of rich compost, as fine as sand.

    Here, in Vacaville, an hour by road north of San Francisco, is an essential part of the city's scheme to eliminate waste that is neither recycled nor composted by 2020, thus doing away with the need for landfill and incinerators both major sources of pollution.

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    He wants your banana peels, your old pennies and your sludge cakes. For his new show, The Rubbish Collection, artist Joshua Sofaer is collecting and archiving all the waste created by London's Science Museum for a month ... and you can help

    I got some rather strange looks as I rifled through the bins outside the Natural History Museum in London yesterday. The problem, of course, was that I'd picked the wrong museum.

    A few doors down, the British artist Joshua Sofaer has just started creating an artwork called The Rubbish Collection, in which the public will sort through, photograph and archive every single item of rubbish produced by the Science Museum over 30 days.

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    Wendy Graham explains how, despite her environmental qualifications, writing a sustainability blog is a constant education

    What inspired you to live more sustainably, and write about it?

    Ive always been interested in the environment and sustainable living. I have a degree in environmental geography and a masters in environmental sustainability, and Ive been lucky enough to work in the environmental sector since graduating, so it really is a long running interest. There was no real pivotal moment for me.

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