Aside from using a renewable energy source like solar PV or solar thermal to power or heat your home, there are many aspects of life in which you can reduce your carbon footprint and have a more positive impact on the environment. (Image source: www.thinkcontemporary.ie)
Recycling as long been recognised as a means of reducing the consumption of raw materials. Changing something so that it can be used again, rather than throwing it away so that it ends up being burnt or sitting in a landfill site, is an important part of sustainable living, helping to reduce carbon emissions and waste. But there are different aspects to recycling, and there are positive steps you can take to get involved.
Very often products are downcycled: this means that in the recycling process they are changed into something of lower quality or worth than their original state. This is the case with many plastic or wooden products. They are melded with other products of a similar type to make a new material which has less strength than the original objects. Even better is to upcycle. This is a process by which an old product is actually improved or becomes more useful than it was originally. This way an old product can increase in value and worth.
(Image source: Atomic Attic – Upcycled Vintage & Handmade goodies) Upcycling has become a major trend amongst eco-conscious consumers, particularly with regards to furniture. With the popularity of design-styles like ‘shabby chic’, many people are looking to their old hand-me-down items of furniture, and seeking out dilapidated antiques so that they can work on them, and improve their appearance or function – giving them a new lease of life. Here are five things to think about when it comes to upcycling a piece of furniture:
1. Don’t throw it away: keep hold of any old items of furniture that come your way – anything can be upcycled.
2. Change its place or purpose: a great way of upcycling something is to repurpose it. An old door could make a fantastic tabletop; a tabletop might even prove useful as a door. Similarly, you may find an old kitchen cupboard that will make a great rabbit hutch – although probably not the other way around.
3. Don’t just slap on some paint: if you want to paint an old piece of furniture, make sure the wood is ready first – that means preparing it properly (sanding etc.).
4. Colour is key: an integral aspect of the shabby chic aesthetic is those distinctive chalky, or washed-out, colours. Think carefully about your colour-scheme, coloured furniture plays an important role in the overall look and feel of a room.
5. Keep it natural: If the original piece is made of high-quality wood, you might be better to leave it in its natural state, just re-conditioned. Likewise, old fabrics of good quality can be restored and used again.
The potential of upcycling old furniture is almost limitless. With the a little flair, and a practical approach, your efforts to upcycle can play a key role in your home’s energy efficiency and add real personality to your home.