How to Upcycle Your Homeware

Fast fashion is a practice that has been rightfully condemned by climate activists as well as fairtrade and sustainability groups; the manufacture of fast fashion clothing items is just as unsustainable as the rate at which consumers burn through them – but it is not a phenomenon that exists solely in the realms of fashion.

Indeed, there has also been a significant uptick in ‘fast homeware’ habit-forming, as people throw away and replace items such as cushions, mirrors and even houseplants at a rate unrepresentative of their longevity. The climate crisis is a very real one, and one that has coincided with a localised cost-of-living crisis to make sustainable home practices more important for the average household than ever before.

But even if you hang onto your homeware that little bit longer, there comes a time when you may need to
replace items – which once again raises the issue of the life of items after disposal. Upcycling is one unique and sustainable way to keep items usefully and mindfully; what are some of the most disposed household items, and what are some of the best ways to upcycle them?

The Most-Disposed Homeware Items

Fitted wardrobe specialists Hammonds undertook a survey of 2000 UK adults to discern which items of
unwanted homeware were most often thrown away. The results of the survey revealed that of those that
dispose of unwanted homeware by landfill, the average person disposes of 12 items a year – adding up to a
projected 69.9 million items each year.
The most common items to be disposed were, in descending order: cushions and cushion covers; candles; and blankets and throws. What are some of the best ways to upcycle these items, and make the biggest impact on fast homeware habits?

Upcycling Cushions

Cushion covers are often thrown away in service of a wider décor overhaul – but this doesn’t mean that their
constituent textiles have reached the end of their life. Indeed, with a little sewing, an old cushion cover could
become a new shopping bag or trendy tote. And old feather cushions can even be composted!

Upcycling Candles

If you’re tempted to throw away an unused candle, why not repurpose the wax? The wax could be used to seal
envelopes, or used to make your own candle. For the leftover packaging from used candles, these can become
small vases or even receptacles for your makeup brushes.

Upcycling Throws and Blankets

As with cushion covers, old throws and blankets might still have a lot of life left in them as textiles. They could
be repurposed as a comfy pet bed or shelter, or even re-stitched into comfortable winterwear clothing.

If You Can’t Upcycle…

Of course, upcycling may not be the most effective or appropriate option for many families. Home size
constraints could play a key part in this. Thankfully, the aforementioned survey found that almost half of the
UK population, 46%, donates unwanted items to charity, whereas 13% of Brits gifts their unused homeware to
others – options that remain open for those still wishing to change their relationship with homeware