Just1Change: Easy upcycling tutorials from experts in sustainable crafting

This week, world leaders descended on Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The 26th annual event – this year known as COP26 – brings together some of the most powerful people on the planet to discuss how we can save it; from reducing our reliance on fossil fuels to protecting woodlands from deforestation.

Climate change is one of the most pressing dangers we face as a species, and the UN describe this summit as having ‘a unique urgency’ due its ferocious pace.

If that scares you, you’re not alone. The situation is scary, as the threat of extinction looms over us more than any generation has experienced before.

While businesses and governments play a massive role in curbing the effects of climate change, relying on their efforts alone can add to that sense of powerlessness – particularly if you feel not enough is being done.

That’s why small changes are so positive, not only for the planet but you too. Granted, you can’t do it all, but cutting your food waste or buying secondhand gives you a sense of purpose in the fight against global warming.

One of these small changes is reducing what we buy, opting for a ‘make do and mend’ approach to clothes and furniture.

Reusing and repairing is typically better for the planet than recycling, and heaps better than sending things to landfill.

One in three Brits has thrown away perfectly useable furniture, and fewer than one in 10 people attempt to repair their broken or damaged items (even though around half want to learn how to). Learning how to upcycle could be one of those ‘small’ environmental changes each person makes, with the cumulative effect of saving up to 22 million pieces of furniture from landfill a year.

If you’re keen to update your decor in a sustainable way, we’ve got some experts in the field to show you how.

First up is Zoe Pocock, founder of Lewisham ‘luxecycling’ company Muck n Brass, who shows us how to turn old items into something new with her three exclusive upcycling tutorials:

Gold leaf anything to make a snazzy ornament

  • Tape up any areas that aren’t getting the gold leaf treatment
  • Cover your item in gilder’s primer, also known as ‘metal leaf size’
  • Once the size is tacky – which can take around half an hour – place sheets of gold leaf over the top
  • Use a dry, fluffy brush to work the gold into the item and get rid of any excess
  • Paint over a lacquer – like Polyvine’s Crystal Clear Lacquer – to finish

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Turn old wood into a garden swing

  • Using any old wood you have left over, remove screws and nails and cut out three planks of the same size
  • Line the planks up parallel to each other, cutting two more pieces of wood to match the measurement along the side
  • Place the extra two planks on top of the already laid down, with one along either edge.
  • Drill screws into the bottom two planks to secure the three above, before turning the ‘seat’ over so you have a flat surface.
  • Also using a drill, make a hole at each corner of the seat
  • Tie strong rope through these holes and secure to something sturdy to make a swing
  • Use sticky-back plastic, wrapping paper, tinsel, and anything else you have lying around to decorate

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Make unique Christmas wreaths with old toys

  • Polystyrene rings work best for this – you can get them online or from hardware shops.
  • Wrap the ring in tinsel (or branches from an old artificial tree if you have one)
  • Use a glue gun to affix anything you wish over the top – the intentionally tackier, the better!
  • Pop a cocktail stick into the polystyrene to turn it into a tree decoration, or hang it like a wreath on your door.

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If you’re not quite ready to take on these incredible DIY projects, the team at Lovecrafts also has five smaller jobs you can tackle easily, from making a dog bed with old jeans to levelling up your Instagram with paper…

Five easy upcycling hacks

Pom-poms are super easy to make and a great way to revamp your decor. Whip them up in no time with a pom-pom maker or if you don’t have one of those you can even use a fork.

Make a pom-pom trim basket, sew them onto a cushion cover, make a garland in seasonal colours, there’s no end to the pom-pom projects you can create.

Perfect for photo backgrounds to give your Instagram a pop of colour, or to inject some joy into your space, 3D paper hearts are super effective and so easy to make.

All you need to do is cut out some hearts from coloured paper, fold them in half, and glue rows of them down on the crease. Here’s a free template to do it in minutes.

Take an old pair of jeans, cut open and stuff with an old pillow. Line the pocket up so you can fill it with doggy toys.

It’s really that easy.

Take a plastic tube (like a peppercorn tube), cover with fabric or paper and glue two baskets on either size. It looks stylish, and it’s super handy for storing anything from paper clips to yarn and string.

This can be made using some old baskets and a plastic tube (Picture: Lovecrafts)

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