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Spotlight on reuse at London Upcycling Show

November 21 2017

Photo caption: Overall winner Helen Westerby sits on her upcycled armchair, surrounded by (L-R) Councillor Clyde Loakes and judges Chris Barrett, Andy Dickson, Georgina Burnett and Tommy Walsh.

More than 250 people flocked to the Walthamstow Assembly Hall on Sunday (19 November) for the second ever London Upcycling Show, hosted by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and environmental charity Groundwork London.

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

"Through this event we hoped to encourage everyone to consider upcycling their own furniture or buying reused furniture – it’s unique, stylish and great value for money. And we particularly hoped to inspire each other to try upcycling and learn new skills.

"The show may be over for this year, but we will continue doing our bit to highlight the importance of reuse and run projects which promote and provide opportunities for reuse. For example, we’ll be running seven Give and Take Days coming up in January and February 2018."

The London Upcycling Show was held as part of a week of activities and events to celebrate the European Week for Waste Reduction, which runs from 18-26 November.

The show hosted the final stage of an upcycling competition for north Londoners. Entrants from the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest all vied for the top spot in a contest that saw them given less than three weeks to upcycle an item in one of five categories of furniture.

Tommy Walsh (of Ground Force fame) and vlogger The Home Genie (www.TheHomeGenie.tv) aka TV presenter Georgina Burnett joined Waltham Forest locals Chris Barrett from thinkFOUND furniture and Andy Dickson aka 'The Chair Man' in judging the 25 entries on display and awarding prizes worth up to £150 in DIY vouchers. 

The judges looked for both quality of work as well as originality and sustainability amongst the judging criteria.

People attending the show were also invited to cast a vote for their favourite entry and helped select the winner of the people’s choice prize from among the exhibited upcycled items.

Congratulations to all the entrants on the quality of their entries, and especially to the prize winners:

  • Best Upcycled Bedside Cabinet (For Child) – Terry May, from LB Haringey
  • Best Upcycled Upright Chair – Camilla Tepasse, from LB Waltham Forest
  • Best Upcycled Armchair – Barnet Furniture Centre, entry volunteers from LBs Enfield and Barnet
  • Best Upcycled Side Table – Lindsey Molyneux, LB Camden
  • Best Upcycled Sideboard – Luke Newcombe, from LB Haringey
  • People’s Choice – a draw between the upcycled bedside cabinet (for child) by KIDS Adventure Play, from LB Hackney, and the upcycled sideboard by Carol Johnson for The Loop @ Grahame Park, from LB Barnet
  • Overall Winner – upcycled armchair by Helen Westerby, from LB Waltham Forest

The competition’s overall winner Helen Westerby said, "Doing this project has shown me that, with a bit of thought, it’s amazing what can be done with a piece of old furniture you’d never think you could reuse. It’s taught me not to dismiss something because of its outdated shape or worn appearance.

"It made me think really hard and push my capabilities. I’m a Clothing Design Pattern Maker by trade and so already had the basis of some of the skills needed. It was nevertheless very difficult, particularly given the timescale and the fact that I have no upholstery equipment, but it was great fun and very rewarding. I really enjoyed it!"

Reusing furniture helps reserve valuable resources and diverts reusable items from disposal. In the UK each year, 10 million items of furniture are thrown away, many of which are still in good condition.

By showcasing reuse and upcycling initiatives in the capital, and highlighting the talents of local residents, the event sought to encourage more Londoners to move away from the ‘throw away culture’ and try repairing, repurposing or donating items rather than disposing of them.

Ben Coles, Director of Communities and Environmental Services at Groundwork London, said:

"There was a great vibe at this year’s London Upcycling Show. All the people who came were keen to learn something new, have a go, and get some inspiration – and the exhibitors and competition entrants were keen to share their skills and experience.

"We love helping Londoners get excited about living greener lives – giving them practical ways to reduce waste, conserve valuable resources, and minimise our capital’s impact on the environment. Hopefully everyone who came will pass on what they learned at the event to their family, friends, community and workplaces." 

For more information about upcycling and the upcoming NLWA Give and Take Days, visit wiseuptowaste.org.uk