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  • Writer's pictureDesigner James Treble

Recycling Week - can be every week

This 'Recycling Week' I want to talk about Council Collection time! We've all have been caught looking at what our neighbours throw away, or driving by something that catches our eye. Hopefully we've found something there we could re-use, and have discretely taken it and given it a new life... No guilty feelings, please, it's called recycling. (I do need to state here, that some crazy councils, have rules about picking things off the kerb, so please check first.)

I's scary how much stuff is of such low quality that it quickly ends up in the rubbish. We're all guilty of throwing out items of furniture that... well, we have bought for what we thought was a cheap price! While superficially we may have thought we were snatching a bargain, we soon found out that we got what we paid for. Too soon we had to get rid of it, because of its poor quality it quickly chipped or broke and sadly it was never designed to be repaired. That's the world we live in. Affordable stuff? Let's call it CHEAP!

Here are images I took this morning walking to my studio... just a small sample of a much larger and sad reality. Does this look familiar?

So, since we all share the guilt of having bought cheap furniture, and we have hopefully learned our lesson, what do we do now with the furniture that we no longer want?

Before simply throwing it onto the footpath, we should firstly offer it to friends and family. We could take a picture and display it at a local café, library or community pin-board, or post it on our Facebook page. If you think your items are still worth a few dollars, you could place a few detailed pictures on You may be surprised by how many people will quickly be contacting you. If you want them gone fast you could offer it for free and it'll be quickly taken away off your hands. And don't forget the local charity furniture shops as they can sell your quality items and raise valuable funds.

Finally, my favourite option: Up-Cycle it yourself and enjoy it once again. Below is a picture of the beloved sofa which I have owned for many years and initially got from my friends who were going to throw it. "No Way!" I said. Such a beautiful and solid piece with a great frame and clean lines, it deserved a new incarnation, so I had it re-upholstered. Then last year, while I had to briefly store it in my car space, two of the back cushions and legs were stolen! Throw it away? Absolutely not: I just added castor wheels and these beautiful new cushions from Designer Kerrie Brown, and here it is, once again in my studio, in its latest elegant and funky look.

Because buying cheap furniture only satisfies us momentarily, my final advice is: invest in furniture that will last, whether in your home, or in someone else's when it no longer works for you! And also don't shy from items that are made from recycled materials in the first place, like these flower-pots made of re-purposed car tyres I bought from Weylandts in Melbourne. The plants also were found discarded on the kerb as told in a previous post.

A very quick make-over is this next very comfortable office chair a friend was throwing away. It had just a little damage on the seat, SO out came my sewing machine and a funky leftover piece of fabric. Now it has a designer look and my partner loves it in our studio. Wouldn't you?

You may remember these next two items I re-purposed on different episodes of The Living Room, on Channel Ten. The two armchairs were bought for very little money at a charity shop, and just needed a refreshing new coat of white gloss paint, as the upholstery was in very good condition. The flower pot on the right, was a sad looking scratched grey plastic tub. Rope, a glue gun and some bright paint was all I needed to spruce it up, and now it is right en vogue!

My studio is full of these up-cycled objects, as I love the creative process as much as the finished product. But I too am guilty of having bought cheap furniture, tempted by cheap prices, and since I have said "no more!" I proudly walk on the footpath looking at thrown away furniture and other objects, always hoping to find something worth revamping and adopting in my life.

We must all be sensible when purchasing, and sensible when discarding, as it's not just about the hard earned money we are saving, but the environment we all live in, as it all ends up somewhere!

James Treble is an ambassador for Planet Ark and firmly believes in sensible purchasing, recycling and creative re-purposing. James has three decades of accumulated experience in the Building Industry, Real Estate and Interior Design and regularly shares his knowledge and experience in adding value to properties through effective design & styling. Watch his free videos on YouTube, and follow him on Facebook and Instagram for more free information.
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