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Repurposing and Recycling

Author: Lauren Coleman

Sustainability and conscious shopping have, quite rightly, been a hot topic for a while. However, thanks to Stacey Dooley’s recent Fast Fashion documentary focusing on the environmental impact of the garment industry, there’s a movement emerging across fashion bloggers for rewearing and repurposing older items rather than buying new.

There are purchase decisions I could make very differently for my own wardrobe (and buying from much more ethical sources is one of them) but as a capsuler I like to think I’m making baby steps towards less wasteful fashion.

In the same vein, with increased awareness of environmental responsibility, I’m starting to focus on how my interiors can also be more sustainable and how I can repurpose and upcycle even more.

Why upcycling is a good idea

It encourages you to shop your own home and save pennies

Reprioritising my to-do list ended up being a smart move and in the end we’ve done more or less all the jobs we set out to do, one of them being a one-liner of a ‘bathroom spruce’ which let me tell you, deserved way more than one entry on the to do list. Dining room prints
This did involve buying some new items however I did spend a bit of time going on a shopping trip around my own house picking up bits and pieces from here and there. Enter the black and white prints which were replaced with dried wreaths for a photo shoot and have been propped on my dining room floor for the last year. Shopping your own home is free (you don’t even have to pay for parking!).
I’ll also be sharing the nursery tour next week where half of the furniture has been repurposed from other rooms in the house rather than buying new.

You save money as it makes you question if you really need it

If I was having a baby five years ago I probably would have gone all out and bought EVERYTHING. As it happens well over 50% of his garb has been handed down or borrowed from super generous friends. We have also approached things minimally (some might say we’re not prepared!) and haven’t strayed from the absolute essentials.
I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon Prime (the packaging, the impact of all those deliveries for individual items) but I figure it’s better to place orders for items we really need that can be delivered exceptionally quickly rather than stockpiling items we might not need at all.

You can shop locally

Apparently, 81% of the items that are on eBay are new but there are still heaps of used pieces available. I would question if driving to the other end of the country for an eBay reclamation offsets your carbon footprint. However, I’ve found Facebook Market Place great for more local pieces as well as Gumtree and Freecycle. Obviously there’s no unnecessary bubble wrap and cardboard boxes when you’re picking up a chest of drawers from the next town.

It inspires creativity

No-one wants a carbon copy home. Well I don’t anyway and the only truly way to have a unique style is to go vintage or customised. The source of the most requested item in my home? A coffee table constructed from a reclaimed palette on 20 year old table legs.

Grey living room with upcycled coffee table

It reduces the amount of raw materials required

This can be a bit problematic. If you’re going to have to buy a load of new paraphernalia to upcycle then is it helping the planet? I suppose this is another illustration of how complex it can be to be more sustainable. Top marks if you’re using leftover paint instead of buying new and sourcing hardware and other vintage bells and whistles from places like eBay and Etsy.

A few archive posts that might be worth a look which have been touched on in this post.

Upcycling resources Sources for pieces to upcycle.
Reducing plastic waste Naomi’s tips for cutting down on plastic
Buying secondhand baby items Resources for preloved baby items
Capsule wardrobe basics The pros and cons of a capsule wardrobe
Jess’ minimalism mission. Jess will be back soon sharing her experience so far of living more minimally.

It’s not to say I’ll be stopping buying new altogether. I love a H&M haul as much as the next person, and more recently I’ve been trying to buy from more independent sellers, but I do want to be a much more conscious consumer. We’ve all got to start somewhere.

What steps are you taking? Have you been inspired to make a change too? Any pieces of home decor you’re thinking of reusing or repurposing?

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Lauren likes Paris, Prosecco and Paint Charts
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13 thoughts on “Repurposing and Recycling

  1. I really liked this article & Naomi’s previous plastic reduction piece so I’m sad to see there hasn’t been much engagement with it today. That said its such a big topic that formulating a thoughtful response when you only have a sneaky 5 minutes between meetings/emails is tricky. I know I’ve certainly taken on some of the points to mull over later.

    I’d enjoy more content like this 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Lynsey and glad you liked the article. Like you say it’s a big topic and one to mull over. Also hoping it will inspire a few people to watch Stacey’s documentary too as it wasn’t until I watched it that it put things into perspective for me.

  2. Did Naomi’s shop with sustainable items ever launch? I have a tiny house so really don’t have much hanging around waiting to be repurposed!

  3. The documentary really shocked me for two reasons – first how bad the impact of the fashion industry actually is firvthe environment and second how wasteful people can be. While I’m currently sat here in Primark jeggings I would guess I’ve had them for at least 2 years. I do like buying clothes but I do not have anything in the wardrobe with tags still on let alone rackfuls of clothes. We can all try to make that change to sustainable cotton but it won’t help unless everyone stops buying clothes they simply don’t need.
    Always a good idea to move things around at home. Got a lovely blue vase on my mantel which had been looking really tired in it’s old spot on the landing windowsill complete with some tatty faux flowers. And my youngest son’s bedroom has just been decorated in a circus theme using the lion rug and light shade that was part of my eldest boys jungle bedroom.

    1. There’s such a satisfaction that comes from shopping around your home Kathryn. Your son’s room sounds ace!
      I think the whole documentary was such an eye opener. I couldn’t believe the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter after oil.

  4. Without wanting to sound like my dad too much (though i fear i am turning into him) the reason i have bought second hand (usually pre 70s) or independently made furniture when possible has been because it is built to last, i have dealt with too many sets of cheap Ikea drawers over the years where the base always falls out and i refuse to buy anything like that again. I’m struggling just now to find a company to re fit our bathroom, we previously used Homebase in our last place and within a year all the taps were loose and the other bits of hardware were just generally shoddy (and i dont feel we shopped their most budget option), now we are saving to buy from somewhere more expensive in the hope that it is much better made(and not just overly marked up!)
    Same with clothing, i have shopped from a couple of brands that i have seen become popular on instagram with bloggers as they look great in the image but when the clothes arrive the quality is awful so i have sent them back, it seems all some bloggers must want is an amazing photo, then surely they must bin these items after one wash? I find it quite amusing that bloggers are now showing how to “repurpose” clothing, as if its a new concept, i have things in my wardrobe that are over 10 years old, do people really chuck their wardrobe after a season?!

    I think some consumers are waking up to all the waste, but the big companies need to change their ways too, to improve quality and reduce packaging. Its tough because costs of production/materials are rising but consumers still want things for cheap and so i’m sure the companies are trying to find ways to cut corners to make things cheaper, but i hope we can go back to a way of buying less and appreciating it, and not just filling our lives with stuff because its cheap. I remember asking a Norwegian friend a few years back about the cost of living over there, with the notoriously high taxes and his reply was simply “if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it, simple”

    1. Rachel, you make an excellent point there about workmanship and quality – investing in things that are made to last futureproofs and reduces waste.
      On the point about big companies, there’s definitely a shift coming that’s going to come from more and more consumer pressure but you are right that the mindset needs to change.

  5. I have recently been really into eBay for second hand clothes, especially for children. Some gorgeous pieces in really good condition or even new- a pair of Boden winter boots for my 3yo for £10, still in their box with tags. Sod’s law they don’t fit her so if anyone wants them!!

    While I do appreciate all the environmental focus and am trying hard to make changes at home I am very frustrated at the neoliberal strategy of making social change the responsibility of the individual and not the corporation. Yes we all have a part to play, but plastic use, for example, has to be lead by the companies who are pumping out the plastic! I was livid to hear of a friend who uses plastic straws due to her disability (tremor) had been told off for asking for one by a barman. No she can’t use metal or glass, all this while they still have disposable plastics lined up at the bar.

    1. It’s a very good point Lucy. Plastic has become so high on the agenda but there’s a lot of work for these corporations to do. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this all pans out.

  6. Its just too easy to pop into the shops and pick up something cheap! I’d like to think I’m not frivolous but I’m trying to think more before I buy.
    Especially clothing atm, only if it works for maternity and nursing then it can go in the basket. I’ve got a few bundles off ebay but it is hit and miss with sizing/condition.
    We’re doing quite a lot of decorating at the moment to make room for a new baby, so trying to rehouse things around the house or sell on fb marketplace.
    The other half sprayed a mirror frame we had in the spare room so that it can be used in a different room and the cushions in there will just get new covers to fit in with our older daughters new room.
    A (cheap) set of drawers we had from argos have been awful, now re purposed for garage storage and I’m looking out for some second hand pine units on ebay/marketplace for babies room.
    Need to see the documentary, love Stacey!

    1. I’ll hold my hands up and say I’m still a consumer but I’m trying to be a lot more conscious.
      Yes, try and watch the documentary Lou. Stacey has quite a talent for getting across a hard hitting point in a very relatable way.

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