Could upcycling help the building industry become more sustainable? Yes.
In the last few years we have been reviewing the material waste we produce. We have also looking at the possibility of upcycling the materials builders have historically thrown away. We’ve written this blog to inspire you to try upcycling or think of different ways to use materials.
What is upcycling?
Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or waste products into new materials or products of higher quality. With the added benefit of a reduction in manufacturing and therefore CO2 emissions.
Recycle and reuse too
We encourage clients not to replace items for the sake of it. Not only is this good for the environment it’s also very good for your back pocket. For example renovation projects often include replacing internal doors. But if there are enough doors in good condition we advise that customers use these for upstairs rooms and buy new for the doors on the ground floor, where appropriate.
We also install second hand kitchens for clients. Some people, including landlords, renew their kitchen doors or install a new kitchen on a regular basis. So this means that there is a decent availability for second hand kitchen in good condition. Kitchen design companies also change their displays almost annually so there’s also an opportunity to purchase a nearly new kitchen if you ask. If you are on a budget or environmentally conscious this provides a great opportunity for you to protect your purse strings and the planet.
We also encourage using doors in new ways, for example an old wooden door can be covered in a safety glass surface and upcycled into a garden, dining or coffee table. Old ladders can be hung as book shelves or made into displays. All of these things can be cleaned, sanded and refinished with varnish or painted to make them truly unique.
Is it art or furniture?
Old, perhaps inherited furniture can be upcycled using high quality paints in a modern design. Cambridge-based upcycling artist ElizabethDotDesign does just that. Using mid-century furniture she creates beautiful designs and has been recognised by Farrow & Ball for her work using their paints. Have a look at her website for inspiration.
Get creative with wood
We retain offcuts of wood kitchen surfaces and make them into garden ornaments, toys and beautiful chopping boards to reduce wastage of a valuable resource. Our head carpenter recently made a bespoke storage case – we aren’t sure if he’s got his chisels, paperwork or bbq utensils in it though!
If you are having wood surfaces ask your installers to leave the offcuts. Simply sand the edges and finish with an appropriate oil such as Ronseal Antibacterial Worktop oil. Remember not to leave your board soaking in water, use a soapy sponge to wash and then let dry. Re-oil regularly. You should get years of use out of your new chopping board.
The team has taken steps to change the way we work with materials. We also support WaterAid and purchase Who Gives a Crap toilet paper to gift to clients that have had a new bathroom. We will continue to review how we can help the environment and our clients. Share your upcycled projects on our social media platforms – we’d love to see them!