How to upcycle furniture
Brits bin 670k tonnes of furniture each year – nearly half of which is reusable
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Published: 11 March 2018
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
Despite the growing popularity of recycling, celebrity property and DIY vlogger Georgina Burnett says Britons ‘have a collective blindspot’ when it comes to reusing furniture.
Her comments come as figures from the sustainability campaign group WRAP reveal that the UK throws away 670,000 tonnes of furniture every year.
Researchers calculated that nearly half (45%) of the total could be reused immediately, or would be reusable with slight repair. This means that 301,500 tonnes of furniture is needlessly being thrown away annually.
For context, that’s the same weight as 24,000 London buses, or more than 50,000 killer whales.
Changing a throw-away culture
Such a huge volume of unnecessary waste runs contrary to the great strides being made in tackling plastic waste. From bars vowing to abandon plastic straws to coffee shops introducing charges for single-use cups, the effort to reduce plastic waste has caught the public imagination.
Organisations like the environmental charity Groundwork London are working hard to change our throw-away attitude towards furniture. It has set up community reuse hubs called ‘Loops’ in London housing estates to teach repurposing skills and challenge perceptions of what waste is.
According to Georgina, there’s a misconception that it’s difficult to upcycle and repair furniture, or that it requires lots of special tools and creative flair. ‘This simply isn’t the case’, she said, ‘as upcycling can be fun and quick; in as little as half an hour, you can transform an old chair or table into a nearly-new piece of furniture you will enjoy every day.’
To mark the start of National Home Improvement Week (12 March), Georgina has made a series of beginner’s guides on how to upcycle furniture. They provide simple tips and inspiration that anyone can use to transform old pieces of furniture into items they can use every day in the home.
‘Brits have rallied together to tackle plastic waste in recent months’, Georgina said, ‘and we’ve seen some serious results. But we still have a collective blindspot when it comes to throwing away furniture.’
‘Too many of us are ditching perfectly decent items of furniture rather than recycling or repurposing them. This doesn’t just create hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste, it’s also a waste of money when you consider how expensive brand new furniture is.
‘But above all it’s unnecessary. Upcycling is an easy way to rejuvenate tired or dated furniture – and new materials mean it can be done for next to nothing, and with little or no past experience.’
TV presenter and founder of The Home Genie