Tag Archives: reuse

Upcycling with bees

The sofa came to us second hand, and was used vigorously over the years. That use included the enthusiasm of several cats, and the damage they did to the arms. 

Sofas are preposterously expensive things to buy new, and throwing away a whole one creates an unacceptable amount of waste. So, we dismantled it and did what we could. The metal fold out part for the sofa bed went to the local tip where hopefully it can be recycled. Wood from the sofa was repurposed, and some of it has been kept for future use. The fabric covering went in the bin along with some of the foam padding, but we also re-used some of that foam in rebuilding the arms.

Two of the cushions were dismantled and used to solve a problem with a different piece of furniture. The sofa bed bit was replaced with a wood base – thanks to the generosity of a friend who wombled together something from material he had lying around. We bought a piece of new foam to fit it. Solid foam cushions were reshaped and covered with new fabric and are now leading new lives as different cushions. 

We threw very little out. We ended up with a sofa that perfectly fits the space, and has more sofa and less sofa arm going on. One side of the sofa is now a bookcase and inside the sofa there is more storage space. The whole thing is more flexible and can be arranged to serve as a bed for anyone under 6ft tall, as a sofa pillow fort for me, and as a leisure space. There’s also more room for the cat!

Small green victories

Some years ago I started making fabric bags for Christmas in the hopes of cutting down on waste. Given the land and water requirements for growing cotton, this only works if people re-use the bags – if they are thrown away, it is far more wasteful than using paper. You do need to re-use cotton a lot for it to offset what it took to grow the material in the first place. However, cotton isn’t putting out microplastics and wrapping paper often has too much plastic in it to be recyclable. The huge amount of paper used for festive wrapping and then sent to landfill definitely isn’t sustainable.

I think cotton bags can serve an extra function in that they can become a sustainability reminder built into the festivities. They don’t invite you to buy throwaway, single use presents or anything in a lot of packaging. fabric bags also remove the temptation for extra plastic decoration in the form of bows and whatnot.

The photo above was taken on Christmas day. Those are all bags I made in previous years, that came back to me this year. Several of them with stories about having been sent on to other people and then sent back again. They’re being used. We did not end up with a bin bag full of rubbish this year, which has happened in previous years.

It’s not entirely straightforward – most things aren’t – but this year felt like a substantial move towards having less waste and keeping usable things in circulation. The bags also make wrapping easy, sparing people the investment of time and energy in wrapping.