Trash to Treasure: Furniture in the Circular Economy
20 February 2020 - Impact Hub Basel
I love getting “crafty” with a project. When I lived in Los Angeles, I did a lot of refurbishing and upcycling of furniture and home accessories, and I really enjoy sharing this passion with people who are new to it – whether it’s explaining what upcycling is and wowing them with some amazing examples, or delighting in their satisfaction when they see what a few hours in an afternoon can do…turning something they almost threw away, into an absolute show-stopper.

Fun upgrade found on scraphacker.com

I’m excited to have found a place in Basel where I can continue pursuing this passion—thank you, ecochair! And even better, ecochair is more than a great source for finding quality, pre-loved furniture—it also has a social mission at it’s core. That’s what I’m talking about!

Well, as it happens, ecochair partnered with Impact Hub Basel at last week’s Circular Economy event, “Trash to Treasure: Furniture in the Ciruclar Economy.” Founder Kate Bottriell, introduced to us some staggering statistics—for example, that 22 million pieces of small furniture are thrown away every year in the UK alone—and brought to light how much embodied energy an average new chair has, making an excellent case for choosing sustainable options, be it locally upcycled or second-hand.

She then interviewed local furniture entrepreneur Tobias Kyburz from Kyburz Made, who spoke about his business, shared some challenges, and brought in a guh-OR-geous piece as an example of how they upcycle old SBB wooden crates into stunning, high-quality, unique furniture (I’m in love). We then dispersed into small groups and had great fun diving into three hands-on workshops! Also there to share their expertise were Titi’s Style and Seniorenhilfe Schweiz.

In small groups, participants circled around, trying their hands at an air compressor staple gun for reupholstery, cleaning and prepping salvaged wood for use in a new project, and testing out chalk paint–all things one can easily do at home for a simple DIY (do it yourself) project.

Following that was an apero full of delicious bites from Soup and Chill in the Hub’s new zero-waste café, Café spurlos. Newly opened and still evolving, participants had the chance to see and feel the space, offering up ideas of their own if they felt inspired to do so—using upcycling and eco design ideas, of course!

It was truly a fun, innovative event, one in which I hope inspired each of us to commit to making planet-friendly choices regarding future furniture we bring into our homes.

And if we piqued your interest in “DIY” and you’re anxious to do more, the online world is full of tutorials. Don’t let being a ‘newbie’ stop you. Youtube will be your new best friend, with videos like this one on how to reupholster, or this beginner tutorial on upping the style factor with paints and gels. Hey, a few years ago I learned how to pour a soy concrete floor and stain it with black tea!

But of course, learning and laughing, face-to-face in a group can be much more fun, and even make the knowledge ‘stick’ more. If that’s more your speed, stay tuned—it appears ecochair will soon be running some workshops of their own.

A special thanks to all who joined us, to Soup and Chill and Cafe Spurlos. See you soon, friends!

Carrie Aikman