Recycling & Re-use

How to help British wildlife every day

Today is World Wildlife Day. A day to celebrate wild plants and animals and the biological diversity of this amazing world.

Have you seen the The State of Nature Report from the end of last year? There’s no getting away from it: many British wildlife species are in decline. If nothing changes they could soon be wiped out. Imagine your kids or grandkids not having an opportunity to see beautiful creatures like hedgehogs in the wild (or at all).

This post is about some practical things you can do for the wild animals we still have. You can help save them from further decline with some easy steps.

Old newspapers

If you read printed newspapers you could save them up and donate to your local wildlife sanctuary. They’re bound to get through a lot each day, especially in busy times, so will always need a good stock.

The old newspapers are great for lining hutches and pens for birds, hedgehogs and other small animals during rehabilitation. They absorb and contain messes to speed up the cleaning process. This helps the sanctuary staff as they’re usually pretty time-pushed during shifts.

Thick layers of newspaper also give the animals some extra insulation during colder months.

Before you donate newspapers, it helps to check and pull out any staples with a stapler remover. This saves so much time for the sanctuary staff as they don’t have to remove them. It also prevents animals injuring themselves on rogue staples that staff might not see. Plus, if you’re in a bad mood or in need of some stress relief, ripping out the staples is a therapeutic way to spend a few minutes here and there. Self care at its most basic!


Some wildlife sanctuaries also need large clean panels of collapsed down cardboard boxes to insulate pen floors for larger animals such as deer.

Also, in Winter, smaller cardboard boxes are used as houses for hedgehogs to encourage them to hibernate. Worth bearing in mind if you have any to spare.

Old bedding and towels

Do you have any old bed sheets and towels (all sizes) you no longer need?

I’ve seen many comedy duvet covers from the 80s being used in my local sanctuary. It’s funny to see the Care Bears, Rainbow Bright, He-Man and other childhood heroes getting a new lease of life. Even if they end up covered in animal poo each day!

Of course, the sanctuaries wash and re-use the bedding and towels for years until they fall apart. When that happens most sanctuaries will donate them for rags.

Other items to donate

You could also ask your local sanctuary if there are any other preloved items they’d welcome for re-use. Things you’d otherwise chuck away or recycle.

Mine likes to receive empty, clean glass ramekins. It uses them as food and water dishes for hedgehogs. A great excuse to get eating those Gü desserts!

Old pet bowls and cuddly toys (for kids or pets) are useful too. Fox and badger cubs love them. Large teddies are also used to help orphan ducklings. They all snuggle together under a heat lamp. It’s super cute. If you’re lucky, your sanctuary might let you have a sneaky peek!

Donating these items is a great way to make a tangible difference. And means you find a new use for stuff that would otherwise end up in your recycling or, worse, the bin.

Finding your local sanctuary

If you don’t know where your local wildlife sanctuary is, you can search on this charity finder website.

If there isn’t a sanctuary near you, why not contact a national animal welfare charity such as the RSCPA, Dogs Trust or other rehoming shelter instead? I bet they’ll need newspaper, toys and other stocks for their local branches.

Other ways to help wildlife

Do you ever see rubbish scattered about when on walks? Things like old crisp bags and sweet wrappers. Often just chucked in hedges.

Plastic beer can rings in particular are very dangerous to wildlife. They can do terrible things to hedgehogs, birds and other creatures if they are dumped outside. In the last couple of years, Carlsberg has stopped using these altogether. Hopefully other breweries will follow their lead.

It only takes a moment to pick litter up and take it to a bin or home if there’s no bin nearby.

You might think, why should I pick up someone else’s mess? I know it’s out of order. It’s hard to understand how people can be so thoughtless and disgusting. But by removing it you’ll be doing a great thing for the environment and your local wildlife.

We need people like you to go the extra mile. And you’ll be so glad you did.

If you have any stories or ideas on how to help wildlife, I’d love to hear them. Please do share in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *