It all started in an airing cupboard back in September 2014. We realised that too many people were living with too many spare, unwanted or unused toiletry products, and that actually these items could be really helpful to others. The original premise was to collect spare toiletries for one homeless shelter in Cambridge, the donations kept coming… we now support over 280 organisations.
We work with homeless shelters and hostels, women and children’s refuges, mental health services, children and families centres, food banks, refugee support groups, NHS Trust services, schools and colleges, prison services, community groups, and other organisations who need our support.
It’s true, there shouldn’t be a situation where so many people are in such desperate need, but that’s the situation we’re in, and the best we can do is to help others in any way we can. It’s not just about supporting local communities and forming more understanding relationships in society, it’s about demonstrating that a small act can have a huge and positive effect on us all, as well as helping decrease our environmental impact.
When it comes to donating toiletries we wanted to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get involved, so we created a directory of those who’d really appreciate a little bit of help from us all. You can see what the organisations do, and where they are, and you can see how to get in touch with them.
Since the UK started to feel the impact of corona virus in March 2020 we have seen increased engagement with the general public; organisations needing our support; and large corporations and brands with excess stock that they wish to donate rather than send the items to landfill. We continue to grow our support network at a fast pace, and over the last 6 months the directory has grown by more than 50%. With additional financial support, the scalability, positive impact on the environment and community engagement are set to only increase.
The initiative was originally set up as a directory to allow members of the public to find an organisation near them that they could donate their unwanted toiletries to. However, between October 2020 until the end of February 2021 we have helped match over 68,000 donated items from large beauty brands and distributors to the organisations and charities registered on the directory. Without our assistance these items would have ended up unused and in landfill.
Small actions make big changes.
What have you learnt that others will find most useful?
- No matter how unusual the donation someone will always want it.
- Most directory members need basic toiletries such as shower gel, shampoo, soap etc so when we were approached with a couple of pallets of nail care products and false nails I wasn't sure that we would find a home for them.
- Needless to say this donation was snapped up pretty quickly ensuring another 2 pallets of excess stock are diverted from landfill.
- There is always a home for what someone else doesn't have a need for.
Measures of success?
Read more: https://www.toiletriesamnesty.org