Supporting communities with pre-loved homeware: Hubbub & Dunelm pilot 'Home to Home'

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Supporting communities with pre-loved homeware: Hubbub & Dunelm pilot 'Home to Home'

By Alex Robinson 1st March, 2023

We’ve all heard of fast fashion, but what about 'fast homeware'? A couple of years ago the charity Barnardo's did some research into the UK's relationship with homeware: all those cups and glasses, mirrors, cushions, dishes and so on that many of us surround ourselves with. They're things that help to turn a house into a home, which is partly why we spend so much on them: almost £8bn a year in the UK according to the survey. Barnardo’s also found that over a quarter of adults chuck unwanted, unbroken homeware in the bin every year, rather than finding a new home for it. Add furniture into the mix, and research shows we're throwing out 12 items per person every year.

Waste on that scale comes at a huge cost, both to the environment and our pockets: a report from WRAP suggests that reusing furniture and homeware could save households between £74 - £280 per year. And, of course, millions of people don't have the luxury of wasting all these valuable items, and nor are they able to find what they need at an affordable price in the first place.

Making a house a home

We've partnered with Dunelm, the UK’s leading homewares retailer, to pilot 'Home to Home' in 22 of their stores, an initiative aimed at tackling this issue and highlighting the value of unwanted homeware. Dunelm stores are joining forces with local community groups to redistribute pre-loved homeware items: reducing household waste while benefiting the local community.

Dunelm are encouraging customers to bring good condition, pre-loved homewares into store to be sorted and redistributed back into the community, helping those impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. Dunelm will also pass on display items, samples and specific products that community partners need. After a successful pilot in four stores, Home to Home has now been launched in 18 more stores across the North West, helping customers pass on pre-loved homeware and each with its own local community partner. Find out if you live near one of them

The partners' focuses range from homelessness, like Emmaus, to food surplus and security, like The Bread and Butter Thing. All share the desire to support people on low incomes. It's also important to encourage the dignity that comes with choice. One of our pilot partners, Julian House in Exeter, supports people in temporary accommodation. People can choose which items they’d like to make their accommodation homely, and when they move out they’ll take those items with them to their new home. It's more than just décor - the way our homes look and feel has enormous impact on how we feel. The national youth homelessness charity Centrepoint say that "welcoming, well decorated and well lit" places are vital to create "a safe environment within which vulnerable and often isolated people could turn their lives around and move away from the streets".

For Dunelm this is the latest step in their commitment to reducing the amount of household waste that ends up in landfill or being unused. Their Textile Takeback scheme has already seen 405 tonnes of unwanted fabric passed on by customers since it launched last year, with approximately 65% reused, 20% repurposed and 15% recycled.

Pre-love is in the air...?

Recent Hubbub polling* shows that though there's still some way to go to normalise buying pre-loved homeware and furniture, about 3 in 4 people are open to buying pre-loved. People are motivated to buy pre-loved to save money and to help reduce the amount of items going to landfill, but about half worry about the quality of pre-loved items as well as logistics around collection or delivery. We need to make it much easier for people to buy pre-loved, and to normalise not buying new.

We also need to make it easier for people to pass on pre-loved items for free - 85% of people said they could be motivated to pass on homeware and furniture they no longer need, but as was the case with buying and selling pre-loved, they have concerns about quality and transportation that prevent them from doing so.

This is where retailers can help, from schemes like Dunelm's to IKEA's Circular Hubs or Currys' repurposing of white goods and electronic waste. At Hubbub we're committed to keeping resources in circulation for as long as possible, from surplus food in the Community Fridge Network or smartphones as part of Community Calling, or supporting innovation through The Circular Future Fund, with the John Lewis Partnership. If you'd like to talk about bringing reuse and the circular economy to life, please do get in touch.

* Hubbub Public Polling into attitudes and behaviours around buying, selling and passing on homeware and furniture, via Censuswide September 2022, 2081 respondents

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