Want to save the world? Try upcycling

It’s friendly on purse as well as on the planet

A chair before and after upcycling South West Upholstery


fter that tear-jerking end to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II documentary last year, the scourge of single-use plastic and our disposable culture has never been such a hot topic.

As people become more aware of the damage caused by these staples of modern life, many of us are looking for ways to consume and waste less. And while you may not be about to go vegan or 100% plastic-free just yet, there are loads of other ways to reduce your impact on the environment today.

Upcycling is a hands-on and rewarding way of doing a little bit to save the world at the same time as saving yourself some cash. The term was first coined in 1994, and simply means extending the use of objects, thereby reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. If you’ve ever seen a glass jar become a fairy light holder or a skateboard transformed into a shelf, you’ve seen upcycling at work.

Probably the most classic form of upcycling is upholstery, which as a craft could be considered upcycling’s wise older cousin. It’s a way of restoring worn but otherwise fine household furniture and accessories – think sofas, chairs and cushions – to their former glory, perhaps even surpassing the original look.

There are plenty of experts about, willing to do the job for you, but lots of people are tackling these projects by themselves. Rather than throwing away that beloved sofa, why not upholster it with some lovely new fabric and sort out the springs, too? If you catch the bug, you might even turn the upcycling game into a money-spinner by finding antique pieces to bring back to life and sell on. It could be your new eco-friendly side hustle for 2019…

South West Upholstery offer a full range of services, advice and materials to get you started. Take a look at their extensive website for masses of inspiration, and give it a try. Not only does upcycling keep junk out of landfill, it also means that new junk doesn’t need to be made.

It requires getting more creative and innovative about what you own too, something David Attenborough would be very happy to know you were actively embracing. While you might not be able to save the world with your sofa, if we all adopt the idea of restoration and reuse, the tide may begin to turn.

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