Green-minded charity in South West London gives waste ‘a second life’

A charity in South West London collects scrap and waste from climate-conscious businesses to protect the environment and benefit the community.

Work and Play Scrapstore, a 32-year-old charity in Tooting, diverts over 62 tonnes of materials from landfills and incineration each year and allows the community to collect from a variety of changing stock.

Work and Play Scrapstore. Photo credits: Gillian Upton

Trustee of the charity, Gillian Upton, said: “Don’t just throw things away, they always have a second life. 

“It’s just really easy to make things out of nothing.”

Materials collected include paper, sequins, paint, felt, trimmings, tissue, textiles, leather, widgets, perspex, bubble-wrap, wood, black-out fabric, props and more.

Work and Play Scrapstore. Photo credits: Gillian Upton

Work and Play Scrapstore attracts art students, teachers, community organisations, home educators and fashion students.

With a yearly subscription starting from £30 for 50 weeks of the year, the charity allows people to collect 95% of materials for free.

Upton’s role in the charity began as a member and later a volunteer before dedicating the last five years as a trustee, helping to guide the charity and secure its future.

“The most challenging aspect of working in the charity is dealing with the unexpected items that might come in,” said Upton.

“It is always surprising what comes in and we think, of my goodness, that’s never going to go on the shelf.

“It might be a plastic widget or piece of metal. 

“And before you know it someone has come in and they are so unbelievably happy that they found this one thing that they’re trying to make something with.” she added.

The charity is composed of a group of 30 volunteers that come into Work and Play Scrapstore each week to help sort the donated goods and present them in the store.

Work and Play Scrapstore. Photo credits: Gillian Upton

They have estimated that overall in the year 2019/20, some 30,300 people from all sectors of the community benefited from their materials.

Work and Play Scrapstore also educates the general public on how to up-cycle and reuse waste materials through outreach work such as workshops, tutorials and general communication to its membership.

“One of our volunteers, Lucy, got a sample fabric book and made a duster coat out of it, the most beautiful item I have ever seen” said Upton.

“You can make something out of everything and it’s a mindset change that needs to happen, but it’s doable.”

The charity is always looking for more members and volunteers.

Get involved and find out more at

Photo credits: Gillian Upton

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