In the new-born era of sustainability, recycling and upcycling, it’s fair to say that the environment is at the forefront of most of our minds. With trendy new items available for next day delivery at shockingly low prices, the temptation to just replace is almost irresistible. However, as a society we are becoming more aware of the dangers inherent in this throw away culture which has wormed its way into every aspect of our lives, our clothes, our food and now our furniture.
The stats are shocking. Ian Mankin News reports that ‘over 50% of reusable furniture is sent to landfill each year’. With the cost of living surging and a looming environmental crisis, why are people still so quick to discard their once loved items? The North London Waste Authority has released new research showing that fewer than 1 in 10 people in the UK attempt to repair or upcycle their damaged furniture. To examine this evidence without understanding the potential factors as to why, would be detrimental to our upcycling revolution.
Following on from the NLWA report, they asked exactly the same question. Why do you bin your furniture instead of granting it a new lease of life?
23% said ‘It was the easiest thing to do’.
23% said ‘they weren’t sure how to recycle it’.
20% said ‘it was cheaper to just replace.’
So in a world where adults have lost the ability to google simple questions, or where a new item in genuinely cheaper than a tin of paint and some sandpaper, is there any hope? The short answer is YES.
A study by The Week newspaper found that ‘furniture flipping’ (upcycling items for profit) was one of the biggest emerging trends of 2021, with the expectation it will grow in 2022. Supporting this idea is a report by EON Energy that found from a survey of their customer base that 9 out of 10 brits want to be more environmentally friendly in 2022.
So it is clear that public opinion is changing and we are slowly emerging from our ‘replace don’t fix’ culture. But how can we upcycle without breaking the bank? Here are some easy ideas for upcycling that anyone can do without cluttering your home.
Upcycling at home needn’t be difficult or daunting, those who don’t have the privilege of an outdoor space can purchase a dustsheet to avoid mess. (Screwfix dustsheet are available from £3.99) Alternatively - on the subject of reusability – why not use an old bedsheet instead?
Anything and everything can be repurposed, but for some inspiration, Pinterest always comes in handy.
Whether its beans, or chopped tomatoes for your pasta, tins are a staple in every UK
household. Turning your old cans into plant pots, cutlery containers, makeup brush holders, or even a light as this clever DIY displays. Be wary of sharp edges, use sandpaper or a file to smooth these down, this isn’t recommended for anyone under the age of 16.
Chest Of Drawers
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again - never underestimate the power of sandpaper, paint and some new handles! It’s easy to walk into a second hand shop and dismiss the old clunky chest of drawers, covered in scratches and scribbles from its past life, but with a little vision these pieces can be easily transformed into modern stylish pieces, fit for a show home. Creating shelves from missing drawers is a great idea, and shows that almost no furniture is past the point of redemption.
Who knew that an old wooden garden ladder had so much potential? This broken piece of equipment can be turned into a unique beachy towel rail, or a shaker style shelf unit in your living space. These items bought new reach into the hundreds, so save yourself some pennies while reducing that Eco footprint, two birds with one stone!