Trend for Upcycling ‘Waste’ Continues to Grow in UK’s Capital : London Upcycling Show Winner Recycles Single Chest of Draws into Three Pieces

London Upcycling Show recycling tommy walsh waste
© London Upcycling Show/Belinda Lawley

The third London Upcycling Show, a competition hosted by North London Waste Authority (NLWA) and environmental charity Groundwork London, drew crowds of over 300 to the Walthamstow Assembly Hall.

The upcycling competition’s overall winner was one of three winners from Waltham Forest this year.

The show shone a spotlight on upcycling and reuse with exhibitors providing endless inspiration for budding upcyclists, showcasing products such as instruments made out of plastic pipes to purses upcycled from milk cartons.

The star attraction of the show was the final stage of an upcycling competition for north Londoners. Entrants from the boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington and Waltham Forest all competed for the top spot in a contest that saw them given less than three weeks to upcycle an item (rescued from waste) in one of five categories of furniture.

Ground Force star Tommy Walsh, ITV’s ‘Love your Home and Garden’ Kunle Barker, vlogger The Home Genie (aka TV presenter Georgina Burnett) and

Ctrl+Click or tap to follow the link">Upcycled Hourcreator Chris Billinghurst judged the 25 entries on display and awarded prizes worth up to £100 in DIY vouchers.

The judges looked for quality of work, originality, transformation, practicality and sustainability in the judging criteria. The audience also got their chance to vote for their favourite entry via a People’s Choice vote.

The judges said that they were impressed with the quality of work this year selecting the below winners out of the 25 entrants:

Best Upcycled Child’s Bedside Cabinet – Raluca Curcan, from Barnet

Best Upcycled Upright Chair – Florence Bennett, from Islington

Best Upcycled Armchair – Vishal Gohel, from Waltham Forest

Best Upcycled Side Table – Gilda Pereira, from Waltham Forest

Best Upcycled Chest of Drawers – Nicholas Troop, from Waltham Forest

People’s Choice – Raluca Curcan, from Barnet with her Child’s Bedside Cabinet

Overall Winner – upcycled Chest of Drawers by Nicholas Troop from Waltham Forest

The competition’s overall winner, Nicholas Troop, wowed the judges with his three furniture pieces all made from one set of Chest of Drawers. He said:

“I’ve been upcycling for about a year and a half, just bits and pieces for friends and family and side cabinets and a desk and things like that. So…[it’s] something I’ve been enjoying but doing more and more of. But of course it’s always been in private so I entered this competition to see what people think of it in public.

“Although by no means the most eco-minded person I know, I do believe in the idea of reducing waste by creating something that someone wants out of something that no-one wants. I really enjoy the creative process, trying to design something on the basis of what you find rather than buying materials to build something you have already designed.

“Each year the competition is run, somebody from our street has entered and last year my neighbour across the road Helen won it as the overall winner…so I don’t know what it is about our street… I might have to put somebody else up to it next year!”

Live Show

The audience were also treated to a live Upcycling Challenge on stage, led by DIY expert Tommy Walsh. Enthusiastic volunteers from the audience worked in two separate teams against the clock to create a new piece of furniture out of rescued materials, with Tommy offering DIY tips along the way.

It is estimated that 10 million household items, from sofas to wardrobes, are thrown away in the UK every year, 3 million of which could be re-used. By showcasing upcycling transformations from local residents, the event sought to demonstrate the amazing benefits of upcycling and encourage more Londoners to reuse and repurpose items rather than throwing away.

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Chair of North London Waste Authority commented:

“This event, now in its third year is growing in popularity showing that upcycyling is a trend that everyone should get on board with. You don’t need experience to upcycle, with just a little imagination, you can transform a broken household item into a bespoke piece of furniture.

“It’s amazing what effect just a lick of paint has, but looking at the amazing efforts of the competition entrants is just inspiring. I’m looking forward to next year’s event already. And what is really incredible is that in upcycling, we are saving perfectly functioning household items from simply being thrown away – it’s a win-win.”

Ben Coles, Director of Communities and Environmental Services at Groundwork London, added:

“We’re delighted with the turnout at this year’s event, which is growing year on year, demonstrating that upcycling and reuse is very much on the minds of Londoners. We love providing opportunities for London communities to have practical involvement with environmental issues, to lead greener lives. It was a pleasure for Groundwork London to be part of it and we look forward to seeing it return next year.”

The London Upcycling Show was held as part of a week of activities and events to celebrate the European Week for Waste Reduction, which ran from 17-25 November.

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