What goes on behind closed (garage) doors

man in garage with hoarded items

Mary is a self-confessed secret thrower. 

“Our garage is a dump,” says Mary, founder of media company News Presenters. “We just throw stuff in and forget it’s there. It’s got so bad I can’t get in there.” 

Intriguingly, the hoard includes a clutch of tennis bags belonging to the great Martina Navratilova – but that’s a story for another day.

Otherwise the Greenhams’ garage is typical of many a UK family household. Fish tanks, cat carriers, “endless hockey sticks”, golf clubs, DIY materials – some to be used again, some simply gathering dust. 

Then there are the electricals. From the big stuff – “a fridge freezer which needs to go to the recycling centre when we can book a slot”, says Mary. To small gadgets – “six old phones, two Nintendos, one Ipod and loads of charging cables.”

Bone of contention

The garage is, she confesses, a bone of contention with husband Jon. “I think he’s a hoarder, and he thinks I’m a messy person.” 

“I could clear out all my stuff, but not his. It would probably only take a couple of hours to sort through it all and take it down to the recycling centre.” 

One day Mary broke that unspoken rule, secretly throwing out Jon’s laptop case and other bits and pieces. “They were annoying me and I knew it would be quicker just to throw it away rather than having to wait to go through it all with him.” 

“He was very unhappy with me at the time. He’s forgiven – but not forgotten – because he knew they had to go.” 

Deal maker

Perhaps that was the breakthrough. Now Mary and Jon have done a deal – his golf clubs for her hockey sticks.

What’s more, Mary has been inspired by the Recycle Your Electricals campaign to start sorting and recycling their old electricals.

“We’ve done one clear-out, including boxes of electrical equipment – we went through what we could recycle, dump and donate.” 

Mary shows off the Zandra Electrical Tote,
created exclusively for the Little Spring Clean 2021 by
British fashion icon Dame Zandra Rhodes.

The future is recycling

Covid-19 lockdowns in the past year have proved to be a great spur to decluttering. This spring is no different. Material Fous polling suggests about 80% of households have been decluttering in 2021, a fifth more than the previous spring.

“Another box has built up again during lockdown. It needs to be sorted out and then taken to be recycled,” says Mary.  

“Now that I’ve heard about the Recycle Your Electricals campaign I will definitely, in future, be recycling all our electricals,” she adds. 

“I’m much more motivated to do this now I know how important it is to the environment to recycle electricals.”

Some things are still off limits, however. Lurking somewhere in the Greenhams’ garage are Jon’s old vinyl records. “I would not dare touch those,” says Mary.

Find your nearest recycling point using our easy postcode locator.

Main photo features an actor.

Frequently asked questions
Find your nearest reuse and recycling point