Red Cross shops: Re-using, re-purposing, and re-loving just about anything

18 October 2023

Across the motu, Red Cross Shops are doing their bit with recycling and being kind to the planet. Each shop finds ways to re-use, re-purpose, and re-love what comes through our doors. We believe that every item, no matter its condition, deserves a chance for a new life rather than going to landfill.

“We think there's something special in every piece and our customers love finding hidden treasures,” said Teresa Crowhurst, manager of the Upper Hutt shop.

When it comes to recycling projects, our shops donate items for so many different things that it’s hard to keep track. Incomplete jigsaws for kids’ construction projects, stained linens for rag collectors, broken plates to a mosaic artist. The list goes on.

“It's amazing to see how different people find value in what others might overlook,” said Henderson shop manager Christine Cinco.

Sheryldeen McCollum, Frankton Red Cross Shop manager, is a big supporter of a school recycling project and she loves telling customers about different ways to use items. “We think things deserve a second shot and we want to help our customers find new uses for donated items.”

Even a humble $1 rack and free box can do a lot to keep items out of landfill. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, and some clothes just need a little love to have a new life. There are customers who shop specifically for stained t-shirts for their own unique projects.

Dedicated volunteers work hard to make donated items look great again. They take linens home to wash, finish incomplete knitting, and make sure unused wool is put to good use. When clothes have small problems, they fix them with care, using zips, buttons, and threads from other donations.

"It's so rewarding to see a piece of clothing get a new lease on life," said Richelle Belleza shop manager.

Debra Morrissey, Te Awamutu shop manager, is all about finding new uses for items that might seem unsellable. Blankets and duvet inners with rips and stains get a new life as packing materials or furniture protectors when people move. Even plates and saucers find a new life as plant holders, showing how much you can do to re-purpose just about anything.

“Every item has a story, and we want to be a part of someone else's story,” she said.

Recycling in our shops helps our environment, saves money, and shows our customers that we're serious about doing things responsibly. Each item that gets a second chance is a story of hard work, purpose, and hope for a greener future.

To our shop managers and volunteers, it's not just about being smart in business – it’s a promise to care for our planet. Every recycled item is a small win against landfill, of saying no to being wasteful, and taking a step towards a cleaner, happier planet.

Helping people see the value in things others toss out is also putting energy into the circular economy – of re-using and re-purposing just about anything instead of buying new. Red Cross Shops and other op shops play a part in the ‘slow fashion’ movement, where quality and sustainability are more important than following trends.

As a humanitarian organisation, we’re seeing first-hand and responding to the increasingly devastating consequences of climate change. We work to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change and we’re working to reduce our own carbon emissions.

Just as everyone has a role to play in Red Cross, Red Cross Shops have a role to play in making shopping affordable, keeping items out of landfill, and helping us to reduce our carbon footprint.

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