TOOLS SHED, the UK’s only garden tool recycling project – community recycling at its best

The Conservation Foundation’s Tools Shed has been recycling  unwanted garden tools for almost fifteen years. The tools are collected at garden centres and recycling centres, taken to prisons to be refurbished and then given to schools and community gardens.


Whilst some recycling may not be glamorous, everyone loves Tools Shed. People who donate tools like to think that often much loved garden tools are going on to a new life, the prisoners who work on them enjoy the knowledge that they are doing something worthwhile which is benefiting the community, and the schools and community gardens enjoy receiving free tools. And not just any tools, tools which have a story behind them. Often young people from schools and community gardens collect their tools from the prisons adding to the excitement for them and doing wonders for the prisons’ community relations.



Donated tools in need of repair.

Last year 3,500 tools donated at 33 garden centres and recycling depots around the country were diverted to 135 community groups, enabling them to expand and diversify their gardening projects. As well as refurbishing the tools, some of our prison workshops are now designing and making bird boxes, planters and other garden items, enabling inmates to learn a range of skills from carpentry and metal work to design.



working man saw tools prison

The tools getting a much needed makeover.

We now have active Tools Shed workshops in prisons in Hatfield in Doncaster, Garth in Preston, Dartmoor, Wormwood Scrubs and Edinburgh. The workshops encourage collaborative working, helping participants to improve their language, communication and team working. Soon, prisoners will be able to qualify for awards which will help show potential employers that they have attended and been part of a Tools Shed workshop to hopefully improve their employment prospects. Visiting a Tools Shed workshop recently, The Conservation Foundation’s director David Shreeve noticed one prisoner taking particular care in repairing one of the tools. Commenting on this, the reply came, “The thing is, this is the first real job I’ve ever had”.



tool shed apron gardening spade

A refurbished tool from the Tools Shed project.


Over the years Tools Shed has been supported by a number of charitable trusts and for the last three years it has also received a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.  This will end shortly and so the Foundation is applying to a number of grantmakers for support. If your company or trust makes donations to charities or if you know someone involved with grant making, please let the Foundation know and we will apply so that Tools Shed can continue with its positive recycling work.




The tool collection points are shown on our website  There are many people involved in the Tools Shed recycling process who would be grateful for your support.