A new lease of life

Karen Neville

Second Hand September, upcycling furniture and repair cafes are all fabulous ways to fall in love again with something you once cherished, not only will it save you money but you’ll be doing your bit to help save the planet too!

How often have you bought something (often on impulse) got it back home only for it to loiter in the back of your wardrobe unworn for years? It’s probably something we’ve all been guilty of at one time, so this month rather than a) buy it at all or b) leave it lurking unloved, why not get involved in Second Hand September?

The Oxfam run project has been going since 2019 inspiring people to shop in a way that is kinder to the planet and with the recent record temperatures much of Europe has been experiencing it’s only too easy to see the effect of climate change.

In September 2022 more than 26,000 people only bought second hand during the campaign and as one shopper remarked when the initiative launched “I didn’t buy any new clothes for 30 days. Then it became two months and now it’s been nearly four years!”

By buying, wearing and donating second hand clothes you’re helping to reduce the demand for new and thus helping to reduce the damage to the planet. An estimated 16.2kg of CO2 is emitted for every pair of jeans made, that’s the same as driving around 58 miles in a car.

And it doesn’t just stop with clothing, Oxfam shops and online offer an extensive range of homewares, books and toys too. There are stores all over, visit oxfam.org.uk/shops/ to find your nearest one and get donating and buying pre-loved now.

You can also do your bit for the environment by upcycling furniture, just because that chest of drawers has seen better days don’t consign it to landfill, show it some TLC and revamp it.

Passion for preloved and recycled furniture led to Jane Goodman setting up Home Office Chic in 2017 in Horsell. Initally focussing on creating upcycled furniture for home offices, she came up with the idea of rejuvenating old bureaus, chairs and other work-related pieces which came into its own during lockdown with more people home working. As Jane says: “Home workers often do not have a dedicated office and artisan recycled bureaus and reupholstered chairs add individuality – you can make a desk area as plain or funky as you choose; as well as being more sustainable.

“Since the early days the business has been about sustainability – helping people to save furniture from landfill, so commissions range from anything from a shoe cupboard to a six-foot dresser!”

Want to give it a go yourself? Join one of Jane’s workshops and you’ll get tips and advice on how to transform a piece of your own taken along on the day and there’s cake and refreshments too. The next workshops run on September 24th, October 22nd and November 12th. Find out more and book your place at homeofficechic.co.uk/workshops-2/

The Upholstery Yard near Blackmore has been helping clients to give a new lease of life to their furniture for two years now under the expert tuition of Georgina. Classes cater for mixed abilities and are run in a friendly environment with Georgina on hand to provide guidance, encouragement and tea. She says: “These days customers who use our upholstery and recovering services are keen to refresh or upcycle sofas, chairs and headboards that might once have ended up in landfill. We aim to make them comfy and stylish again giving them – and often their owners too – a whole new lease of life!”

The Upholstery Yard’s new autumn term of furniture upholstery classes starts at the beginning of September. Designed for beginners or those with some past experience, the classes are small and friendly and take place in a workshop near Blackmoor in the Hampshire countryside. Find full details at theupholsteryyard.co.uk

Making something out of nothing has always been the passion of Paula at Maisy Gray based at Langham Stables in Lodsworth. “Restyled vintage furniture is unique with its own imperfections, character and individuality,” she explains. “I have always been one for recycling and I have been upcycling and refinishing old furniture for some time now, it’s all about sustainability. I just hate to see good quality furniture tossed into the dump or landfill. We seem to have adopted a throw away culture.”

If you have a piece of furniture you’d like to fall in love with again visit maisygray.co.uk to see what Paula can do for you.

Pretty much anything can be recycled, upcycled or repaired and if it’s not your forte then head to a repair café. There you’ll find helpful folk who can turn their hand to just about anything with the help of an array of tools. Repair Cafés are free meeting places where you can repair your toaster or other appliance, a bike or piece of furniture and just about any item you can think of! They’ll provide all the tools and materials you need and there’s expert help on hand to assist you.

The Guildford Repair café is at The Hive, Park Barn Drive where they meet from 10am to midday one Saturday a month, the next dates for your diary are September 9th and October 14th – start going through your cupboards and get repairing! Follow their ethos: “As a society we throw away vast amounts of stuff. Even things with almost nothing wrong, and which could get a new lease on life after a simple repair. The trouble is, lots of people have forgotten that they can repair things themselves or they no longer know how. Repair Cafés can change all that.”

Part of a worldwide movement started in 2007, there are cafes all around, visit repaircafe.org/en/visit/ to find your nearest.