News: Bristol’s students give big to the Big Give

Harley Hodges, July 12, 2017

Dozens of duvets, piles of pans, bags of books – and a fez. These items are just a tiny fraction of what volunteers have been rummaging through as part of this year’s Bristol Big Give recycling campaign.

And Tuesday marked the start of the sorting process, as a small team of dedicated helpers took to organising heaps of unwanted goods at the Victoria Rooms.

Previously, you may have seen unwanted items simply left outside houses- or maybe you’re the poor parent who has to schlep all your offspring’s worldly belongings back and forth to uni every year.

But for those who are leaving university for good and are left scratching their heads over what to do with a horde of unnecessary and useless items, the British Heart Foundation’s ingenious scheme has once again come to the rescue.


For over ten years now, the charity has been placing both industrial containers and branded boxes around Bristol, ready to be filled with as much clutter as they can possibly hold.

And in conjunction with Bristol University and University of the West of England, local volunteers are helping turn one man’s junk into another’s gold – and all for a good cause.

Last year, the campaign prevented more than 78 tonnes of reusable goods from ending up in landfill sites and generated up to £135,000 for British Heart Foundation and other local charities.

Scenes at Tuesday’s sorting event could only be described as a chaotic, yet organised mess. Volunteers dug their way through mountains of bags of unwanted goods, whilst a barrage of unusual items littered the left-hand side, including a toy dachshund and a stress ball in the shape of a mushroom.

But the pièce de résistance was the eight-foot-tall mound of duvets growing ever bigger as the day went on.

Bedding disposal can be a problem for anyone, as pillows and duvets are incredibly hard to recycle. Yet the volunteers didn’t falter at the sight of the fluffy heap; the bedding will be donated to animal charities to provide warmth and comfort for disadvantaged pets.


Generally, items given are still in good condition and can be sent for resale, but occasionally people give things that are totally unusable. However, luckily this is rare.

Rose Rooney, sustainability manager at the University of Bristol, explained how somebody had donated a half-eaten jar of Marmite.

“But for the most part we are able to sort out most donations to go to charity shops, and anything that we can’t is recycled,” she said.

On the flip side of the coin, sometimes items that come in are too good to be true. One student left an expensive bag stuffed full of brand new designer clothes.

These, and all other good quality items, will go towards British Heart Foundation as well as 18 other local charities including St Mungo’s, Aid Box Community and Children’s Hospice South West.

The volunteers sorting the clutter were all incredibly passionate about the environment and sustainability, and were glad to see unwanted items being re-homed.

Rosy Scholes, a physics student at Bristol, told Bristol24/7 she believed most of the items donated would have ended up in landfill if it weren’t for the Big Give. She continued: “It’s a much needed project and great to see charities get some nice things.”

And to encourage people to recycle, re-use, or donate, students created artwork on the pavement outside the Victoria Room.s Two globes were made from materials that had been dropped off and can still be put to good use.

The initiative is part of the Love Where You Live campaign, which helps to build relationships between the student body and the local community, as well as improve sustainability in the city.

Read more: A passion for fashion

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