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'I want to do something good for somebody else' – Giving life to old items

Words by Abi Scaife

We all know the feeling: it’s time for a spring clean, and you clear out a load of junk that used to be in your wardrobe. Except now it’s in the middle of the living room.

You have no time to take it to the charity shop, but you don’t want it to end up in a tip either - so what are you supposed to do?

Well, A Good Thing is making that process a little bit easier for businesses, through their dating app-style website. Businesses can advertise anything they no longer need, and charities will pick it up - meaning they’re reducing waste and helping charities access the things they need for free.

“We also get the most random and wonderful things,” says Cathy Benwell, who co-founded A Good Thing with her husband, Richard. “When people ask us ‘what can we donate’ our answer is - you can donate absolutely anything. I mean, literally anything, as long as it's a physical thing - and people have really stretched that!”

The brainchild of Cathy and Richard, the idea for A Good Thing has been bouncing around in their heads for the last 15 years. Passionate about the environment, as well as giving back to charities, Cathy and Richard knew there was a way for them to do good twice over.

“I think businesses tend to look at those things and think they just don't have any value,” says Cathy. “And there's a real education piece there for us with businesses of saying: ‘really you'd be amazed!’”

Businesses can make an account by entering their business name and the postcode of where the items are. After that, every charity in a six-mile radius will be notified of the items that are up for grabs and can submit a request, along with a few lines about the work they do, so the businesses know where their things are going.

Among the items that have been donated through A Good Thing are hundreds of bamboo poles from an art installation - those went to a charity that was building a community garden - and half-empty paint cans from a decorating company that enabled a charity to brighten up their community space for free.

“This lovely lady came to us and she'd been hand-making these organic cotton baby blankets. She'd become very poorly… and she made the decision to close her online business, which was a really tough decision, but she [had] these hundreds of blankets left,” explains Cathy.

The person in question put her blankets up on A Good Thing and was inundated with requests. “They went immediately to a lovely charity called the Baby Bank, which works with vulnerable new parents in Windsor, and were able to share them amongst the families that they were working with."

Each business is able to choose which charity they want their items to go to, and from there they can arrange a time for the charity to come to pick up whatever it is they are giving away.

The details of the business are kept anonymous until there's a ‘match’ so that if they miss out there are no hard feelings involved - and to encourage people to keep trying!

“This sounds very cheesy, but the people that I've had contact with through doing this are just lovely,” says Cathy. “It just feels like almost everybody that you come across has got the same goal in mind which is either ‘I want to do something good for somebody else’, or ‘I want to do something good for the environment’.”

From puppets the size of a house to used cutlery, A Good Thing will take any old thing and help turn it into a force for good - whether you might see the potential in it, or not.

If you are a business or charity that is interested, you can sign up for A Good Thing on their website - so you can send less to a landfill, and more to a good cause.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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