Is recycling your resolution for 2012? Then follow the lead of this Norfolk family

'One man's trash is another man's treasure,' is most definitely one of the mottos for the Porters who run three businesses that aim to reuse anything and everything they can.

Emma Knights speaks to Malcolm Porter and his two daughters about their passion for recycling.

An old set of skis, some odd buttons, and a worn-out woolly jumper may not seem like they are worth much, but to the Porter family if you have a little bit of imagination their possibilities are endless.

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For 73-year-old Malcolm Porter, from Acle, his fascination with recycling began as a child, and after working in the building trade all his life he decided to set up his recycling business Third Hand Recycling which is based in Reeves Corner, Great Plumstead.

'A lot of people think recycling is a new thing but it is not. I have always been interested in reusing things, because as a child I was taught that way by my grandfather and parents.

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'In those days everything had to be reused because people were as poor as church mice,' he said.

From unwanted building materials to lawnmowers to sofas to sinks, you name it Third Hand Recycling will usually take it.

Mr Porter urges people heading for the skip with old goods to instead donate them to Third Hand to lessen the amount of waste going into landfill.

Anything Mr Porter thinks could be of use to someone and re-sold is put in his Aladdin's cave ready to be found by its next owner, and in return for donations people are given a prize draw ticket with which they could win vouchers for local food stores.

He said: 'The beauty of it all is that you are saving good quality stuff from going into landfill and people with a little imagination are able to reuse things that would otherwise go to waste.

'If things cannot be used in their original form, they can often be used in a different way.'

Mr Porter said since he started his business about two and a half years ago he has enjoyed every minute, and he especially likes the surprise of what people will bring into the unit.

He said: 'I would like to see one of these in every county because I think there is a need for them.

'The main thing I now want to do is training for young people. Recycling is a craft and a skill, and I would like to have a training scheme to motivate young people and educate them in recycling.'

Mr Porter has certainly inspired his own children - his daughters have both started businesses turning old materials into colourful and creative accessories.

Julie Porter, 40 and from Acle, started Bags of Love after reading in a library book in 2009 how to turn the neck of a polo neck jumper into a bag.

'I had a favourite brown jumper I had had for years that I couldn't bear to part with, but it had gone all bobbly, and so I took the neck off and made a bag, and then I was hooked,' she said.

'I also had some purple cord jeans I loved and which I had had some really good nights out in but which did not fit me anymore and so I made them into a bag too.'

Since then Miss Porter has made bags made from everything from trouser legs to ties to bed sheets to curtains.

One of her bags is made from crocheted carrier bags, with an old chain for the handle and a metal bottle top for decoration.

She said they have attracted quite a lot of interest at craft fairs and she is planning to start her own website.

'I think that people are amazed at what can be used,' she said.

'I have started writing tags which tell people what their bag was made from so people have some knowledge of the history of their bag.

'I can also do commissions with people's clothes.'

Miss Porter's sister Sue Little, 47 and from Hemsby, has also followed the family tradition and she use buttons and other bits and bobs to create jewellery.

Like her sister she has stalls at craft fairs, and also sells jewellery at E@synet Internet Cafe in Kingsway, Hemsby.

She calls her business Little Treasures because of her surname and because everything she makes is unique, and said it all started when she did a jewellery making taster in August 2010.

'After the two hours I had made a necklace and earrings and I was hooked,' she said.

'For the next month or so I was searching around for a button necklace and so I decided to make one and it has gone on from there.'

A bangle decorated with poker chips, pendants made from old belt buckles, and dice turned into earrings are some of her creations, and she has branched into making clocks and customising photo frames with dominos and Scrabble letters.

She said: 'I am constantly looking at things and thinking what I can do with them.

'To me it is like treasure if someone gives me a tin full of buttons. I just like collecting different bits and pieces and exploring and creating.'

She said it was really nice to share her recycling passion with her dad and her sister.

'Between us not much gets thrown away - if one of us can't use something we just pass it on,' she said.

• For Bags of Love call Miss Porter on 01493 750478 or email

• For Little Treasures call Mrs Little on 07920 521537 or email

Mrs Little would like to hear from anyone who has unwanted buttons, dominos, beads, chess or Lego pieces or sweet tins.

• Third Hand Recycling reopens after Christmas on January 4 and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am until 3pm.

Visit or call 01603 263868.

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