A new website, Toiletries Amnesty, links people with unwanted toiletries and cosmetics to the community causes that need them most, such as food banks, shelters and charities.
With an interactive directory of organisations that need your spare bathroom and beauty products, Toiletries Amnesty takes the guesswork out of making a donation and reduces the marketing time spent by organisations on appealing for goods. Donors can find full details of the local charities and social enterprises that need their help, and then donate at the most appropriate time and location, which prevents goods being left outside donation points out of hours.
Toiletries Amnesty began in 2014, when photographer and writer Karen Harvey started donating her own excess toiletry supplies to a homeless shelter in Cambridgeshire. Like many of us, Karen had accumulated extra toiletries as gifts, in shopping deals, and when travelling. As she blogged about her experiences, Karen found people across the country turning to her for advice on where to donate their products.
“I had no idea we’d get so much support for the Toiletries Amnesty, but it’s so easy for people to get involved, it makes sense. There’s a social and an environmental aspect too, small actions make big changes!”says Karen.
Organisations on the list include food banks, homeless shelters, mental health charities, refuges, schools and colleges; they simply register to create an account and tell people which products they can and cannot accept. The most in-demand items range from deodorant and soap to shower gel and toothpaste; smaller travel-size or disposable items are particularly useful for homeless shelters.
Hygiene poverty is a growing issue in the UK for people of all ages; this year, charity In Kind Direct reported in a survey that 36% of primary school teachers have provided toothpaste for a schoolchild, and 29% have provided soap. Period poverty is a further issue for women and girls; in 2017, a Plan International UK survey found that one in seven young women aged 14-21 struggle to afford sanitary products. Toiletries Amnesty aims to reduce these statistics and cut the amount of usable goods going to landfill or lingering in bathroom cupboards.
In May 2018, Toiletries Amnesty received the Global X Foundation Grant in recognition of its work. Judges cited the “innovative reversal of what is a common household issue into a positive result for those in need”. X Jewellery CEO Thu Dieu Ainsworth said of the 2018 XWomen: “We look for women who look at the world around them and identify how they could make a change within it, for the better. These women also display enviable courage and determination to continue pushing forward with their unique missions – this is what the ethos behind X has always been: going your own way, with strength.”