British Heart Foundation urges the nation to take on its Declutter Challenge

More than four out of five (84%) of Brits have unused household items – from clothing to tablets and TVs – unnecessarily cluttering up our homes, according to a new survey we have commissioned. 

On average those holding onto unused household items wait almost a year and a half (17 months) before getting rid of them. 

The survey, which has been released to mark the launch of the British Heart Foundation’s Declutter Challenge this September, which is encouraging the nation to declutter and donate any preloved treasures to us – either by dropping them into one of their shops, booking a free collection, or sending direct via free post.

The survey also showed that the older we get, the more we hoard. Those aged 74+ tend to hold on to unused items for nearly three years (33 months), while Gen Z (16-23) will get rid of them within a year (10 months).  

The figures also revealed tech and electrical goods are the most held onto possessions, with the top five as follows for respondents who have unwanted or unusual items in their homes:  

1. Old electronic devices, such as old games consoles (32%) 
2. Food making machines, such as pasta making machines, bread makers and slushy makers (25%) 
3. Collectors’ items, such as coins, stamps, and collector’s cards (24%) 
4. Inherited jewellery, such as broaches (23%) 
5. Musical instruments, such as recorders and guitars (18%) 

The survey also revealed that, on average, respondents have around eight items of clothes they no longer wear, up to four unused electronics or gadgets such as consoles, tablets, or phones, six pieces of unworn jewellery, six pieces of unused exercise equipment and five items of furniture that are unused in their house. 

Allison Swaine-Hughes, Retail Director at the BHF, said: “It’s surprising to see that, despite the rise in people decluttering their homes during the pandemic and popular trends like the Marie Kondo effect, we’re still a nation of hoarders. 

“In particular, people are often unsure of what to do with good quality electronic items that they no longer use, such as tablets, phones and consoles. However, our 190 home stores across the UK are the biggest high street retailers of preowned electrical goods in the UK, selling over 40,000 TVs on average each year. We love to receive preloved electronic goods, such as TVs, washing machines, fridges, consoles, tablets and laptops that are in good working condition. We check these items against a product recall list and put them through function and PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) testing, to ensure they are safe to use and fit for purpose. 

“We train all of our shop teams to recognise the true value of donations. Any high value items or unique pieces of electronics or technology are sent to our eBay shop, where our experts will wipe any devices using an effective software tool called Blancco Data Erasure. These items are then listed on the auction site to ensure the BHF can raise as much money as possible.” 

When asked what reason they had for having unused items in their homes, nearly two in five (37%) respondents said they couldn’t be bothered to sort through old items, while nearly a quarter (23%) said they were unsure of how to get rid of things. More than one in seven (15%) said they didn’t have time to visit a charity shop to donate.

Allison continues: “We are all guilty of putting off the tasks we don’t want to do – like having a good clear out – but donating your decluttered goods to the British Heart Foundation couldn’t be easier. Simply drop your items to one of our 712 shops and stores, send them straight to us via our free post donation service, or arrange a free collection.
“Charity shops are the perfect sustainable solution for decluttering. We help find a new home for your preloved treasures, whether it’s quality clothes you no longer wear, a unique piece of jewellery, a tablet or exercise equipment. So, why not take on the British Heart Foundation’s Declutter Challenge this September and help support the 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases.”

They are particularly keen to receive winter wear to sell throughout the coming season as well as clothing, jewellery, toys, books and vinyl, and larger items such a sofas, furniture, homewares, tech and electronic gadgets. Every item sold by the BHF instore or online will be turned into funds for life saving science. 

This year they expect to save around 71,000 tonnes of goods from going to waste – by selling over half a million pieces of living room furniture, including 250,000 sofas, and 14,000 tonnes of preloved clothes. In a year, through the reuse and recycling of donated items they will prevent 135,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions being released into the atmosphere. 

Take on the Declutter Challenge

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