Tag Archives: reduce

Not So Shabby Chic….

10 Oct

Alison, one of our  R4GM Education Officers wanted a new sideboard for her living room and having been inspired by all the TV programmes for upcycling furniture, she was looking for a project. Who would have thought she would find one in her sisters barn!

There it was – sat in my sisters barn, an unwanted pine welsh dresser. I had admired some lovely painted dressers this summer in craft shops, so this seemed like fate.

The first job was to strip it all down-  removing all the old cabinet handles, drawer front pieces and brackets that hold it together to get it ready for sanding.

I bought a palm sander to make life a bit easier but the papers for this were expensive so I decided to buy cheap, coarse grade sand paper and let elbow grease get the main coats of old varnish off. It was quite hard getting round all the curved twiddly bits of carpentry. Then I used the sander to achieve a smoother finish. I even remembered my ear plugs, eye protection and mask to protect myself.

The next stage was to do a couple of coats of primer, sanding down any runs in between coats.

I wanted a contemporary matt type finish so a very helpful lady in my local DIY store helped me decide what type of paint to use. I chose two colours of the recommended eggshell paint.

It felt exciting to finally start the real painting. It was actually very difficult paint to work with; too thin and it didn’t cover properly and too thick and it formed ‘runs’. It was also hard to clean off brushes and skin. I often went out with pale grey and duck egg blue splotches on my face, arms and hands!

The dresser cost me nothing , so I didn’t mind spending a bit of money on some beautiful new, hand painted ceramic handles which I searched for and found online. Took me a while to figure out how to get the handles, front drawer plate and drawers back together but I think they look perfect. Overall, with the  paint and handles, it only costs me about £60. A brand new item of furniture would have cost hundreds.  Over a four week period I put in at least  8 hours of hard but enjoyable ‘labour’ to finally complete the transformation.

It looks much more contemporary and brightens up a dark corner of my living room. I am really happy with it. I feel great to have given an unwanted item of furniture a new lease of life and I learned a lot of DIY skills along the way. Can’t wait for my next project!

If you are inspired by Alison’s fantastic upcycled dresser and interested in trying your hand at upcycling furniture why not consider visiting your nearest furniture reuse shop, where you may find interesting and affordable furniture to personalise and upcycle. Visit our website for your nearest furniture reuse shop.

Share your upcycling projects with us via  Facebook and Twitter 

No such thing as waste!

3 Oct

A few weeks ago Recycle for Greater Manchester had a fantastically popular guest blog from Maker of Things about his upcycled/ recycled wedding. We have since found out that Sue Archer (Mrs Maker of Things) also has some great ideas about reusing and upcycling ‘the things that we everyday folk leave behind’ she tells us about what she is up to…..

I think I got my recycling tendencies from Mum. She has wrapping paper carefully saved for reuse, remnants of fabric handy for sewing projects, a tin of buttons to be sifted through. We kids soaked up the spirit of Blue Peter and made things from toilet roll tubes and margarine tubs.

When I got a job collecting domestic recycling, I couldn’t help saving things that might be useful. To avoid being overrun with stuff, I had to make it into things other people might want. Ideas and materials come thick and fast…

Other people have made belts from bike tyres, but I haven’t seen anyone else use a bike chain link as a rivet. Possibly because it’s a terribly fiddly, time-consuming process, but it’s a great use of even more scrap.

Most tyres yield one belt with a bit left over, and of course I can’t waste that bit, so I make key rings, letting the tread pattern suggest the shape.

With old tyres come old inner tubes. Cut into strips, they can be woven into a funky ‘fabric’ to make handbags. They need a lining to keep little items safe, and I hit upon the idea of using the fabric from broken umbrellas – they come in so many colours and patterns.

In fact it’s a shame to hide those colours and patterns away in a lining, which is why I started making fold-up shopping bags. Thanks to a bit of careful planning, the tag that kept the brolly furled also keeps the bag rolled up.


Unfolded brolly bags

I like it best when I can make something functional from junk, but I make decorative items too. When we found some old alarm cable at work, I noticed that the inner strands had different coloured plastic insulation. Stripped out onto homemade bobbins, they make a great material for jewellery. It was a plait made of this that I made ‘Maker of Things’ engagement ring from! His practical skills have been invaluable, helping me make my ideas work.

My latest project makes use of offcuts from a friend’s robotics project. From a box of jumbled up oddly shaped MDF scraps and some acrylic paint, I’m creating more jewellery. It’s one of the joys of recycling materials – you never know what’s coming next!
We hope you are inspired to upcycle! To find out more about Sue  and also Alfred’s incredible makes – please follow them on Twitter! @Maker_of_Things and @SueArcher6

A rubbish day out …..

26 Sep

It’s been a busy few weeks for the Recycle for Greater Manchester Education Team.  For the third year running we have participated in the Heritage Open Days. These are a once-a-year chance to explore the world on your doorstep, unlocked and completely free of charge!

This year almost all of the eight sessions held across our four education centres were fully booked. This was a tremendous response from residents wanting to find out more about what happens to the things they put in their bins.

Our education centres are based at some of our major facilities and each one showcases a different technology.  Our centre at Longley Lane in Manchester focuses on our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where your cans, foil, glass bottles, jars and plastic bottles are sorted and separated ready to be transformed into something new. At the Bolton centre we take a look at our Energy Recovery Facility (ERF) where non-recyclable waste is burned and the heat used to generate electricity. At Bredbury we discover how non-recyclable waste undergoes treatment at our Mechanical Biological Treatment Facility (MBT) where it is mechanically separated, biologically digested and used to generate green electricity.   Pilsworth in Bury is where our landfill site and gas plant are situated. Here you can see how a modern landfill site is run and how we protect the environment by collecting the gas using it to generate electricity.

Each session included a presentation on the technologies, why we have four bins and what should go in them. This was followed by interactive activities to explain just what happens at the site, a site tour and how to get the right stuff in the right bin.  It also gives you the chance to ask those nagging questions like “why can I only put plastic bottles in my recycling bin”? You can find the answer in the recycling A-Z , or come along to the next open day and test our knowledge.

We had some wonderful feedback from the visitors, lots of people felt they now understood what they should be recycling and why.  A Bolton resident went so far as to say “everyone should see this” and an Oldham resident commented “the presentation and tour was excellent and the staff running it were wonderful – excellent exposé of the system”.

Further open days are being held at each of the sites throughout the year. Check out the events section of our website to see when they are or tell us that you want to join our mailing list and we will tell you the dates for future open days.

Our education centres and facility tours are very popular with schools and community groups simply book a visit to any of our education centres and see your waste in action!

A big apple issue

16 Sep

Phillippa, one of Recycle for Greater Manchester’s campaign officers has been concerned about the amount of fruit from her allotment that has is rotting on the ground and has been looking at options for reducing her wasted windfall….

Being an allotmenteer I know that this is the time of year when those of us with fruit and veg gardens are in the throes of picking, storing, freezing, pickling, preserving and consuming everything that we cannot give away. So if like me you are struggling to eat all that you are producing I may have a few options for diverting your excess produce.

Right now I am toying with the idea of how to use up all my Bramley apples. I have a massive tree, which this year is very productive. There is no way I can collect the apples at the top of the tree even with an extendable apple picker.

So right now I am only collecting the windfall fruit and still have more than we can manage.

bramley apple treeI  have encouraged fellow plot-holders to help themselves but still there is more than me, my family and even my neighbours can consume. I even brought some apples into the office for colleagues last week,  they were used to make a super apple pie.

Donna's apple pie

Donna’s mum’s apple pie

I know that there are literally thousands of apple recipes online that use this humble fruit in some very interesting combinations, such as macaroni cheese with apples! So I am not lost for new fruity recipes to try out thanks to motherhood on the rocks ‘Beyond the pie’ article which offers 30 interesting apple themed recipes to try, if I have the time!

However if you are feeling overawed by your produce there maybe help at hand. I decided to find out if I could, in fact, give my fruit away and I found out that I can. I have come across a project called Abundance (working mainly around south Manchester) who will pick my excess fruit and veg and give it away to local people and projects that can use it, what a fantastic idea!

Or, if you wanted to get a return on your excess fruit the Moss Cider project is still accepting donations of apples and pears. They are a community project and will give you a percentage of your fruit donation in either cider or juice. If you live in or around Tameside Operation Farm may be able to help you as they are running a series of information and juicing days.

I have been thinking that there must be other projects across Greater Manchester that offer similar services. If you know of any community groups that collect, pick and distribute donated fruit from gardens, parks, open spaces and hedgerows please tell us about them via email, twitter @recycle4gm or Facebook so we can spread the word.

Don’t forget if your fruit and vegetables are just too far gone for eating put it in your food and garden recycling bin, along with all your garden waste, cooked and raw food waste and it will be made into Revive® Multi-Purpose Compost which is available for sale at our larger sites.

If you are interested to see how we turn your food waste into Revive® Multi-Purpose Compost watch our YouTube video

A Recycled Wedding

3 Aug

Guest blogger: Alfred Chow aka  Maker_of_ Things  shares his and Sue’s inspirational wedding day with us!  From the rings to his wedding suit –  all made with a creative recycled twist!

When Sue and I got married we knew we didn’t want a traditional umpteen-thousand-pound-debt-with-all-the-trimmings wedding.

For a start, our engagement rings were homemade from scrap and off cuts of wood! Sue’s ring was made of Yew with brass screws, from an old fuse box, in place of gems.  Mine was also Yew with a plaited band of old alarm cable and wine bottle wire.

We knew that the rest of the wedding would be as much recycled, re-used and homemade as possible.

We looked at various options for wedding rings, including used aviation hose clips, but in the end we designed and made them too. In my workshop, I turned rings of scrap stainless steel on the lathe.  These were then decorated with brazing brass by my good friend and bicycle frame builder, Dylan Thomas of PIM Cycles in York – a simple design of two bands on my ring and a single one on Sue’s.

We love that our rings are both priceless and worthless at the same time.  Also they are representative of our new life together – if they get lost or broken, we can fix or remake them just as we adapt to whatever life brings us.

My outfit was never going to be the grey morning suit, even from a charity shop.  I decided on a steampunk look and found as much of the outfit and accessories secondhand as I could.

The shirt was from the back of my wardrobe. The waistcoat was from a second hand boutique.  The trousers are old biking leathers.  The boots were theatre props dyed to match. The jacket was found in a bag of rubbish outside a neighbour’s house.

Yes, you read that right.  We were going to put the bag into a bin but as it wasn’t tied up we looked in it and fished out a sodden leather jacket.  Cleaned up, it was the right size and style!

Even the metal framed welding goggles I wore came from the scrap bin at the preservation railway where I volunteered. Only the hat was bought new and the goggles on the hat came from Ebay as an old collectable.

For our three tier wedding cake, comprising cake, cheese, and pork pie, I made a wooden cake stand using offcuts of plywood from my workshop, making the best of the bits I had.  It is all assembled with sliding fit joints and packs flat and will now display the recycled crafts Sue makes.

We had a cake made by a friend, cider we made ourselves, and numerous gifts of services and home cooking for the buffet in lieu of presents.  Even the paper cups we drank from were compostable, courtesy of our local independent coffee stall!

To find out more about Alfred and also Sue’s incredible makes – please follow them on Twitter! @Maker_of_Things and @SueArcher6

Brownies 100th birthday celebration

4 Jul

Recycle for Greater Manchester’s Education Officer, Alison Heaton, went back to her Girlguiding roots to celebrate a very special occasion – The Big Brownie Birthday!

On behalf of Recycle for Greater Manchester (R4GM), I was invited to join 1000 Brownies and volunteers from the Salford, Trafford and Sale areas for a brilliant birthday bash on 21st June 2014. The Girlguiding Greater Manchester West members had planned a cosmic-themed adventure in MediaCityUK – Star Quest – to celebrate 100 years of the Brownie section.

As a former Queen’s Guide, I jumped at the chance to once again get involved with Girlguiding – which is the leading organisation for girls and young women in the UK.

When I arrived, I found out that the event would see the young Brownies travel through three time zones in the hunt for missing stars – taking part in activities and enjoying new and exciting adventures en route.

The Star Quest story began with a trip to the past to learn more about the 100-year history of the Brownies. Next, the girls moved on to the present, where R4GM ran a specially-tailored recycling themed session for the Brownies.

R4GM sponsored the development of a fun and interactive play about recycling and worked in partnership with Momo Theatre to deliver an educational and entertaining performance that the Brownies would enjoy. On the day, we saw it all come to life and watched as the girls sat in the warm sunshine and laughed out loud at the ‘Ant and Dec’ style antics of recycling ‘expert’ Mr Ellerbeck and his sidekick Mr Holloway.


During the performance, the Brownies were even brave enough to take part in a game show style quiz which saw them making decisions to either reduce, re-use or recycle the different waste items they were shown. It was great to see them participate and I was impressed to see how well they understood their waste and recycling, and what should be done with it.

Next, it was time for the Brownies to journey to the future where they experienced a mad science show and other activities to browni enviro badgeconclude their cosmic adventure. At the end of an action-packed day, it was clear that the Brownies had thoroughly enjoyed their birthday celebrations and had learnt a lot too. I also found out that, as part of the Brownie programme, Brownies have an environment interest badge that they can earn by learning about recycling and doing some environmentally-friendly activities.

Every Brownie was given a leaflet on how to recycle right so here’s hoping that we’ve helped them on their way to earning another new badge!

recycling pizza web large


R4GM have 4 education centres which are available for Greater Manchester  schools and community groups to visit. Why not book a visit?



Top Goals and Great Saves!

20 Jun

The team at R4GM are all a bit gutted by last nights result but there is still a lot of football and even some barbecue weather to enjoy ….

Looks like the weekend will be dry, so if you’re planning a World Cup party or barbecue or even just giving the cooker a rest and ordering in a takeaway to enjoy while you’re watching a game, one thing’s for sure – all these World Cup celebrations will create lots of extra waste, the majority of which can be recycled.

There’s a lot of items you can recycle quick and easily, including drink cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles and jars, foil trays, cardboard boxes and foil takeaway cartons. All you have to do is make sure they are clean and then put the right stuff in the right bin.

RSRB generic

(Click image to view)

It will take seconds to do but will save a lot more than you think!

Metal cans are 100% recyclable; they can be recycled again and again and can be back on the shelf within 60 days! One metal drinks can, over the cycle of a year, can be recycled eight times. This saves enough energy to make another 160 cans.


It takes a quarter of the energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled plastic as it does from new materials making it worthwhile recycling those extra bottles.

You might be surprised at what recyclable items can be turned into:

• Glass bottles can be turned back into more bottles and jars again and again
• 25 plastic drinks bottles can become a fleece jacket
• Plastic bottles can be turned into new park benches

Remember it’s not just your tins and cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles can also be recycled. If you’re buying a brand new team football shirt this World Cup, it might be greener than you think. Did you know that the England’s World Cup kit has been made from recycled plastic bottles? So your recycling efforts can be seen both at home and away in Brazil.

England plastic bottlesOld football kits
And it doesn’t have to end there – there are lots of textile banks where you can take your old, unwanted football shirts. Find your nearest recycling bank at www.recyclenow.com. If you don’t have a textile bank near you, there are plenty of other options. Make the most the charity collection bags that come through your door – or take them directly to your local charity shop or recycling centre.

You could even donate your old and unwanted strip to Football 4 Africa (www.football4africa.org) or Kits 4 Causes (www.kits4causes.org) who will pass on your unwanted strip to those in need. For details on how to donate, visit their websites.

How about your TV? Did you buy a new one to watch all the action on, why not make it your goal to recycle your old model?

Why not check to see if one of your friends may want it; ask around members of your family, too. Or ask your local charity shop if they accept TVs, if they do, they will happily find a new home for it. You could also try passing it on using websites such as Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) and Freegle (www.ilovefreegle.org).

There’s no reason why you can’t try and make a bit of money by selling your TV if it’s still in good working order. Try your local paper or shop notice board, or online sites such as eBay (www.ebay.co.uk ), Preloved (www.preloved.co.uk) and Gumtree (www.gumtree.com).

And if it’s no longer working, take it to your local recycling centre. Find your nearest recycling centre on our website.

Many electrical shops will now take your old item off you when you buy a new one. Check with the store to see if they offer this service.

So this for the rest of the World Cup, remember to support the environment as well as your team by recycling all that you can.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 56 other followers