According to the Young People’s Trust for the Environment, more than 280 million tonnes of waste is produced in the UK each year, but new retail site Remade in Britain aims to turn the UK’s throw away society into an upcycling one instead.
Launched in November 2014 with over 300 upcycling retailers registered, Remade in Britain is the first dedicated retail platform for businesses specialising in upcycling goods spanning furniture, interiors, lighting, clothing, jewellery and accessories. It aims to grow its list of retailers to more than 1,000 in the next twelve to eighteen months alone.
The term ‘upcycling’ was coined in Germany in the early nineties and refers to the reusing of discarded items or materials into items of higher quality and value, rather than recycling which involves breaking down items to create something entirely new. Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, along with Germany, are the biggest recyclers in Europe. The UK meanwhile only just scrapes inside Europe’s top 10 for waste recycling.
Products to be found on Remade in Britain range from furniture made out of discarded pallets to lighting fashioned from plastic drinks bottles and vintage textiles repurposed into clothing and home accessories. In comparison, two million tonnes of clothing and textile waste alone is generated each year – 60 per cent of which goes to landfill, whilst 13 million items of furniture are thrown away every year, with only 23 per cent reused.
Amongst the 300 plus retailers currently registered on the website is Max McMurdo, star of Kirstie Allsopp’s Fill Your House for Free and founder of eco design business, reestore, which was boosted after securing investment from Dragon’s Den’s Deborah Meaden and Theo Paphitis six years ago.
He said: “Upcycling is a movement which is ever growing in both popularity and consumer interest and it’s great to see Remade in Britain offering a much-needed platform to bring this vibrant community together. The beauty of upcycling is that there are quite literally no limits to what you can create and the wide selection of products and retailers showcased on Remade couldn’t demonstrate this any better.”
With a rapidly growing number of UK companies now tapping into consumer enthusiasm for upcycled products and with countries including the US, Germany and Sweden seeing a huge surge in demand for upcycled products, there now seems to be a resurrection of thrift and ‘make do and mend’.
As the popularity of repurposed and vintage items is particularly clear on online artist marketplaces like US-based Etsy and Artfire where products tagged with ‘upcycled’ rocketed from 7,900 in 2010 to 216,024 just four years later, Remade In Britain aims to help make it easier UK retailers tout their upcycled wares.
Remade in Britain founder, Donna Fenn said: “Increasingly the UK’s throwaway culture is being replaced with a resurgence of the ‘waste not, want not’ ethos from the past. The upcycling community is championing this with fantastic creativity, innovation and beautiful design and that’s what makes Remade in Britain so exciting.”
With the site set to be a ‘hub’ for the upcycling community, offering a place to advertise courses, events, items available for salvage and upcycling supplies, could this be what we need to get Britain upcycling?
Read how Remade in Britain’s founder Donna Fenn plans to get Britain upcycling in Make It Shabby’s interview here.
Find out more at RemadeinBritain.com. You can also follow Remade in Britain on Twitter and Facebook too.