I firmly believe that making a stylish home does not mean rushing out and buying new, in-fact that very idea is on my design crime list. A home should be where you have the the things you love, the original one off pieces, that you find that make you happy every time you look at them, the things customised to your style. There has never been a time when being sustainable in the choices you make for your home is more important. Britons throw away more than 300,000 tonnes of reusable furniture every year and thats an alarming statistic and one that I think we could easily reduce with a bit of education on shopping secondhand.
So what is this buzz word sustainability that every body seems to be suddenly mentioning and claiming to be? I teach children to Upcycle and to be Warriors on Waste in school clubs and holiday camps and in its simplest form it is ‘living today and making choices always thinking about the planet and what effect we are having on it for the future’ or if you’re above 8 years old you may understand this version ‘meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.’
How can we translate ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ to Interior Design in our homes?
Upcycling, recycling, shopping second hand and using sustainable materials wherever possible is the answer and we know all this but how, where ,what do we buy ,what do we not buy it can all be very confusing. I have tried to help and offer some ideas and solutions for you on my It won’t cost the earth page on my Warriors on Waste website but I have recently been doing some work with the British Heart Foundation and their furniture shops and you know me, I like to pass on the good information.
Often as I am driving past skips I see them full of furniture that someone has discarded, this is all heading for landfill ,I have already mentioned that we bin about 300,000 tonnes of furniture each year( well worth reiterating) It amazes me when I am doing interior design jobs and a client says to me – I want a cabinet that’s painted really dark and they go on to describe the style of it, as my eyes scan the room I point out that they are describing the cabinet they already have ,the only difference being that their one is orange pine. Seeing things with fresh eyes and updating them or upcycling as us Wombles like to call it, is all that is needed. Often what we want to buy new is right under out noses, its just a case of pimping your pine! As us Wombles say it’s all about turning trash in to treasure and making good use of the things that we find. This is also true of shopping second hand, at first glance it may not be the grand vision you had in mind but what about with a paint or sanded down, or limed?
The British Heart foundation is leading the way in a sustainable circular economy option, normally large bulky waste such as furniture provides a different challenge for waste managers as it is too big to be disposed of in rubbish bins. With the collection services such as councils also unable to enter residents homes the furniture is either left outside and exposed to weather, or cut up into pieces so it can be transported to landfill. Both of these scenarios stop the potential of a circular economy in the furniture industry , but hold that thought the British Heart Foundation are solving this. The British Heart Foundation offer free collection of your unwanted things making it easy to get rid of them and pop them back into the system ready to be bought and used again by someone else - no landfill, no waste.
Not only are they providing a fantastic sustainable option for your home but each year, British Heart Foundation (BHF) shops raise around £30 million to help the BHF fund life-saving research into all heart diseases, stroke, vascular dementia and diabetes its a total win win.
The BHF has around 738 shops across England, Scotland and Wales including 550 Standard shops and over 180 Home stores, selling up to 85,000 items every day. The BHF is the biggest reuse retailer in the UK, providing a huge impact on the environment through waste reduction. Here is the really good bit- get ready to air punch….
Last year, 78,000 tonnes of goods that may have otherwise been disposed were collected, sorted and resold by their shops.
Click here to go to my Warriors on Waste website to find your nearest store and information on the eBay shop. Then get your skates on and grab a bargain.
Statistics show that half of the UK population say they don't have time to donate their unwanted clothes and household goods to charity. I know people always have good intentions but often drive around for weeks with a bag of stuff ready to donate in the boot of the car. At the BHF they offer a free collections service for both clothes and furniture and they can also deliver anything you buy in store straight to your house for a really small fee- I pay £15,00 which is fantastic.
Being a Warrior on Waste, Whats my mission?
If I can inspire people to think differently and question the need to buy new, we can help reduce the landfill situation and help preserve the earths natural resources then that will make me a happy gal. I love the creativity that comes when people choose second hand. Upcycling is the practice of reinventing unwanted materials and transforming them into useful products. Armed with a few upcyling skills - and you really don’t need to be an expert you can create truly unique pieces for your home by buying secondhand and IT WONT COST THE EARTH.
My tips for Upcyling are:
Be sympathetic to the piece.
Chalk paint – Annie Sloan. PIMP YOUR PINE !!!
Re-waxing or liming
Repurposing things- ladders into shelves, crates to bookcases
Don’t be scared to try- you didn’t love it as it was you have nothing to loose.
Every time you choose to buy second hand it reduces the need for production, using new or raw materials-which means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often a conservation of global resources. We cant continue to just send things to landfill as if disposing of things is someone else's problem, the British Heart foundation are leading the way in offering a sustainable solution to this and at the same time supporting research to beat the heartbreak from heart and circulatory diseases
My job is to arm people with the tools, knowledge, expertise and passion to become upcylers and warriors on waste. When people ask me what interiors trends I am predicting over the next year I simply say CARING. That means extending the love you have for your home and family to the planet through the choices you make. We now want to ensure that what we put in our homes does not have a detrimental effect on future generations.
You don’t need to keep buying new and following the latest fad trend, you just need to be creative with what's already out there and lucky for us the British Heart Foundation is there to help.
Thanks for caring and happy secondhand shopping.