How you can help us change the planet.
Fact: there’s too much waste in the world.
- Less than a tenth of the UK will try to repair or restore a broken item.
- We’ve had to double our domestic waste capacity in the UK since 2010.
- Global e-waste was set to hit 50 million tonnes last year.
“Sure, but what are you doing about it?”
80,000 watches. 14,000 cameras. 50 tonnes of scrap metal.
That’s just three types of items we’ve bought from people and found a new home for.
Our whole business model focuses on giving old and interesting vintage pieces a new home – instead of being left hidden in cupboards or simply binned.
You see, when we receive a box of items, it goes like this: we value the contents, we make an offer, and then the customer gets paid.
Then something magical happens. The items embark on an exciting journey.
They become useful again.
The thing is, our expertise doesn’t stop at the valuation stage. Oh no.
We’ve spent a long time refining what comes next. It involves lots of different selling channels, and we’re really rather proud of it.
“So, what do you do with the items you sell?”
Let’s start with the easy stuff: collectibles in great condition.
As you can imagine, it’s not so hard to find someone who’ll love a working film camera, a beautiful pair of vintage sunglasses, or a set of medals. For these items, we rely on a fairly standard selling model. Auctions, specialists, and roadshows.
The real magic comes from the next two types of items that we receive: precious metal pieces and broken or part complete items.
We receive a lot of items made from precious and semi-precious metals. Often, their value as metal is higher than their perceived value as an object. They could while away the years waiting for someone to want them, but the reality is they simply aren’t that desirable anymore.
It’s then a simple decision: turn them into scrap metal, and allow them to become something else that is useful.
Imagine the incredible amount of resources it took to mine and refine the metal needed to create, say, a silver tea tray. Then imagine all that only for the tray to be sat on top of a cupboard for years, or waiting in a shop for ‘someone’ to buy.
Sure, but it doesn’t have to be.
For each type of metal we receive – gold, silver, silver plate, tin, copper, brass, bronze – you name it – we have a specialised channel to ensure it finds a responsibly motivated source of recycling.
Our team of experts specialise in all fields of vintage and antique items – we’re not recycling items of genuine historic significance or particular value. The items we’re recycling, while they are mostly nice looking pieces, are also mostly very common. They were made in their thousands and, being frank, there just isn’t the same demand for them in today’s buying market.
Broken or part complete items
We’re about to share a secret here. Promise you’ll keep it to yourself?
We still sell these items on. For money.
And no, we don’t pretend they work.
We’ve spent years cultivating a little black book of extremely talented people that have created entire careers out of upcycling, fixing, refurbishing, and repairing items.
It’s to these people that we sell our stopped watches, broken jewellery, bent pens, faulty cameras – you get the idea.
They love getting regular supplies of parts for a burgeoning market dedicated to repairing and reselling old things.
Take the Seiko 5 – a series of watches. It’s not that extraordinary of a watch but it does have a bit of a following. Cheap quartz movement. Broken versions really don’t garner much attention. From the general public.
Our contacts? They lap it up when we send them a delivery of broken Seiko 5s because it means they can fix a bunch of others and sell them on. And they do sell.
Ok, got a bit sidetracked there but, hopefully, the example gives you a bit of an insight into how it works. We like to think we’re letting people send us their otherwise un-saleable items, and when our team aggregate them into larger lots, we manage to find a buyer for them.
I think we can agree it’s certainly better than just throwing it all in the ground and calling it done. We’ve done that for far too long as a planet.
Holding up a mirror
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
And we’ve got to be honest, he’s right.
Sure, we’re trying to make a difference with how the world consumers products. But what are we like as people? As a business?
The truth is that we’ve got a way to go.
Sure, as a tech-focused company, it’s already second nature to do a video conference instead of taking flights all over the place.
We recycle as much of the packaging we receive from our customers as is possible.
We’re based in an old sewing machine factory, and it can get pretty cold here. Our solution? We’ve got racks and racks of beautiful old coats and jackets and we use localised halogen heaters where needed. There’s really no need to heat a whole warehouse. And we look fabulous.
But there are areas that we’ve realised need some work.
Our brochures could be printed more ethically. We’ve set plans in motion to completely change our brochures to have much less of an impact on the environment. Even better, we’re going to incentivise people to have the digital version instead.
Our rooftop is huge and, despite the fact we’re in the North of England, could be a great spot for a ton of solar panels. Our co-founder, Anthony, dreams of walking on the roof amid a sea of beautiful, blue, energy-bringing solar panels. If you fancy helping make this dream come true, get in touch!
We’ve put together a committee of volunteering employees from all areas of our business. They’re tasked with meeting regularly to foster positive change from within. They’re identifying areas of improvement and setting out a plan we can work towards.
So, that’s our journey towards sustainability so far.
We know we’re not perfect, but we know our cause is good and just, and that what we do on a daily basis is helping to offset the damage done to the world so far.
And that makes us happy.
Any advice on how we could do better? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or let us know over on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vintagecashcow/