Published date: 7 December 2016

Unused items get a new lease of life at ‘London Upcycling Show’

North London Waste Authority’s first ever upcycling show took place last week and was met with a great response from all those who attended. On Wednesday (30 November) NLWA through it’s ‘Wise Up To Waste’ campaign, teamed up with environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to host what was their first ever upcycling show, in aid of this year’s European Waste Reduction Week.

The event which was launched by Councillor Clyde Loakes, was held at Waltham Forest Assembly Hall, and was attended by over 180 residents from across north London. Attendees were treated to upcycling demonstrations, free workshops including chalk paint applications, decoupage (cutting and covering items with paper), furniture assembly and decorative techniques. There were also a range of exhibitors and upcycling organisations present including

The Forest Recycling Project (FRP), Petit MiraclesShed Homewares E17 and Millie’s Workshop, who were on hand with advice and ideas, as well as displaying their upcycled items for sale. Visitors were also treated to ‘gourmet canapés’ made from surplus food (food which would otherwise have gone to waste).

The show featured an upcycling competition in which 18 north London residents took part and upcycled an item of unused furniture. One winner was then chosen from each of the five categories; armchair, cabinet, dining table, side table and upright chair. Each winner received a  £200 voucher to spend at The Goodlife Centre (an independent learning space situated near Tate Modern, offering practical boutique workshops in DIY, home maintenance, decorating, upholstery, woodwork and carpentry, furniture upcycling and restoration and various traditional hand crafts).

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority, said:

“In the UK each year, 10 million items of furniture are thrown away, many of which are still in good condition. Upcycling is a great way to get creative and give your broken or unwanted household items a new lease of life. It is also better for the environment as it helps to reduce the amount of waste that gets sent to landfill. I’m really pleased to have hosted the first ever London Upcycling Show in Waltham Forest, and I hope the event encouraged residents to start doing or do more upcycling themselves.”

Judges for this competition were Chris Billinghurst; interior decorator and founder of Upcycled Homes (design consultancy for eco-friendly and upcycled interiors), and creator of #UpcycledHour (networking and idea-sharing platform, on Twitter) and Tim Rundle; an Industrial Designer with experience across furniture, lighting, consumer products, technology and transport. The judges were very impressed by the level of submissions received. The winners were as follows:

Side table: Lorraine Blissett, from Islington

Dining table: Nathan Phillips, Inga Thiemann, from Haringey

Cabinet: Jacqueline Ambrose, from Barnet

Armchair: Elizabeth Knowles, from Camden

Upright chair: Tina Kendall, from Waltham Forest

There was also a ‘People’s Choice’ award, which was also won by Lorraine Blissett, from Islington (for her side table entry).

Jacqueline Ambrose, winner of the cabinet category, mum of four from Barnet, said “after completing a design course, I decided that upcycling was the way forward. Just over a year ago, we (myself and my husband Gary) started to upcycle furniture, at the beginning this took place in our living room – but after a couple of pieces we realised that our living room wasn’t big enough! So, we built a workshop at the side of our property and named it 'The Shabby Hut'. We both love what we do and hope to change the ‘throw away’ culture that has developed.”

As a result of the ‘London Upcycling Show’ held last week, 441.4kg of furniture was diverted from disposal through the upcycling competition, which, to put into perspective , is about the same weight as 20 real 5ft Christmas trees! (Or a large adult grizzly bear!)