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Healthy Planet 'Stuff for Free' event reuses unwanted gifts

Furniture, board games and a large cuddly toy
Image caption Furniture, games and a cuddly toy amass ahead of the 'take' part of the event

A charity is encouraging people to get rid of unwanted Christmas presents - or pick up a gift for nothing.

Healthy Planet has been accepting goods at a warehouse in Acton, west London, since Thursday, with donations including books, games and furniture.

People can drop off items until 22 January. Their donations will then be available free from 27 to 29 January.

"There are so many items thrown away that can still be used," said West London Waste Authority's Sarah Ellis.

The unwanted goods might be just the thing other people are looking for, said Ms Ellis, a waste minimisation coordinator for the authority, which works with six London boroughs.

"It isn't always easy to find something you need at a price you can afford, especially when money is tight."

It is the first Stuff for Free event organised by Healthy Planet, which already operates 24 free "donate and collect" bookshops across England and Wales.

Empty premises

The shops are set up in empty premises, while a landlord is looking for a new tenant.

In most cases a local authority will give the charity an 80% reduction in business rates, so the landlord can save money while looking for a tenant.

"Even with our landlords giving us the temporary space rent-free and a financial contribution, they are normally financially better off," said Shaylesh Patel, former accountant and founder of Healthy Planet, who came up with the model.

Image caption Lucas, aged 7, is giving up his football table and has his eye on a donated drum kit

The Stuff For Free event aims to achieve the same idea on a grander scale by using a warehouse that is currently sitting empty and to help people who want to recycle.

"It's either too much hassle to redistribute or recycle yet you feel bad about the idea of throwing away," said Mr Patel, who said he had been astounded by the response.

"Just seeing some of the things that we've picked up in the last 48 hours - furniture, ironing boards; we've just had arrive a giant stuffed tiger that I know fetches a lot of money in the shops."

Tristan Titeaux came to donate things, along with his seven-year-old son, Lucas.

"We've brought down all sorts of things from the loft that we've been hoarding for far too long, things that Lucas doesn't play with anymore. A football table, a Moses basket, a pram, some books, a video player that I'm hoping they can recycle because I know they're offering that."

"My mum came down and she's been rooting through the books for the take event. And Lucas has got his eye on a drum set over there because he wants to start a band. Maybe we'll see if we can reserve that."

You can hear more on this story on Asian Network Reports on the BBC Asian Network.

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