Zero waste advocate Dr. Anita Vandyke shares her recycling tips for beginners

Planet Ark estimates that between 4,900 and 7,400 tons of reusable furniture could immediately go to landfill, rather than be reused or converted into new pieces.

FeastWatson Woodcare is on a mission to change that with their annual ReLove Project. This initiative aims to inspire Australians to try restoring furniture rather than throwing it away.

Read more: An old LEGO storage box becomes a cute quirky shelf in cheap DIY

Campaign ambassador and author Waste-free lifeDr. Anita Vandyk is a passionate recycling activist. Giving furniture and décor a new lease on life is easier than we think, she said, and she doesn’t even need power tools.

“It can be upcycled by adding ribbon on a vase, putting a new tablecloth over a side table, or putting a blanket over a tired sofa. It doesn’t need tools like that, simply some creativity,” she told 9Entertainment.

Dr. Anita Vandyk gave the vase a new look with just a coat of varnish. (supplied)

According to Anita, upcycling is not just a way to reduce waste, it also adds a unique look to your interiors that is difficult to achieve with mass-produced furniture.

She recommends beginners start with something small to build confidence before moving on to bigger projects.

“Wooden décor items, such as simple vases or side tables, are great beginner pieces for updating and renovation,” said Anita.

Read more: Former block contestant Jenna Densten shows how to restore an old table with oven cleaner

Furniture recycling
The chair can be transformed with paint and some fabric. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

When looking for a piece to recycle, Anita tends to look for wooden items that seem timeless for her.

But the options are pretty much endless as everything from candle jars, tea cups, T-shirts, and travel bags can be transformed into containers, bird feeders, yarn and flowerbeds.

Read more: An Australian woman reveals how she saved thousands on the sofa of her dreams with this budget-friendly DIY repurposing.

If you want to stick with wood furniture, Anita recommends a few tools and supplies to get you started.

“The main tools you need to recycle include sandpaper or electric sanders to prepare the surface of the project, microfiber cloths or a hair dryer to get rid of any excess sanding dust, old cloths or (clean) rags for setting stains and protective top coats,” he said.

The new home page

But don’t forget to take time to prepare the surface before you start.

“Underlining the importance of prepping the surface before giving it a new lease of life with a new coat, such as the Feast Watson Wood finish – sanding the element again is key.”

Read more: How to Recycle Old Candle Jars into Stylish Storage Containers

When it comes to looking for inspiration, Anita turns to everyone’s favorite photo platform, Pinterest.

A quick search for “recycle furniture” on Pinterest shows a range of projects including a wardrobe storage bench, bookcase refurbishment, and ideas for reusing old lamps.

Restoring Antique Furniture by Josh and Jenna's Upcycle DIY
Jenna Densten of The Block restored this hall table by stripping and resurfacing the paint. (YouTube website)

But Anita’s favorite things to recycle are pieces with designs that stand the test of time and require little to no finishing touch.

“I love reusing old pieces with a little personality,” she said.

“Something that looks classic and stands the test of time but just needs a little fresh paint or a simple varnish – these items don’t require much effort but can make your home look unique and fresh again.”


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