Upcycling makes the old look brand new
January 6, 2015
When David Jensen, ReStore director for Habitat for Humanity of Summit and Wasatch counties, announced a contest inviting people to repurpose home furniture, he expected to receive some cool submissions.
His expectations were surpassed, as the items people made out of old and used furniture blew him away. There was a dresser refashioned to look like the drawers are made of suitcases, and there was a chipped and scuffed end table that was refinished and painted to appear brand new. The winner was a bench constructed from an old headboard submitted by Joli Pichot, of Ogden.
"You can’t even tell it was a headboard," Jensen said. "It looks like it was just a fancy bench all along. Even me, when I first saw it, it took me back and I said, ‘Woah, that’s pretty awesome.’ We have several headboards that look like this, and we can’t even sell them because they look so ugly and old. So for her to turn it into that bench, it looked totally different and beautiful."
Pichot received a $200 gift certificate to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 6280 Silver Creek Drive. Four others — Michelle Andersen, Coalville; Edward McHugh, Coalville; Emily Medlock, Park City; Jeff Dinger, Park City — received $50 gift certificates for their submissions. The ReStore sells new and used home improvement goods at less than retail price.
Jensen has been the director of the store for just a few months. The contest was part of his mission to rebrand the store to help jumpstart a local upcycling movement.
"One of my big pushes is helping people learn how to repurpose and how to upcycle," he said.
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Upcycling is becoming more popular in the area as people’s awareness of the environmental benefits of reusing products rather than getting rid of them is increasing, Jensen said. And as a bonus, it makes for a fun hobby.
"What these people are doing — besides providing a great craft for themselves, and in some cases an income — they’re taking the stuff and keeping it out of the landfill," he said. " keeping it out of the landfill, we’re helping to save the environment. It makes material more environmentally benign. Anything that does that, we’re all in favor of."
Jensen said the contest, which ran in December and was advertised on Habitat for Humanity’s Facebook page (facebook.com/HFHSWCReStore), received 15 submissions. He’s expecting the next one to come out well ahead of that as word about the ReStore’s upcycle initiative spreads.
"By the time I have this contest again, I’ll probably have close to 2,000 (Facebook) page likes, so the audience will be much larger," he said. "When I look at the Facebook page, I can tell that the repurpose and upcycle announcement and entries were some of the highest-viewed and engaged posts on the page. People really get into that stuff."
Contests are just one part of Jensen’s efforts to get people involved in upcycling. He hopes to put on events to teach people how breathe life into used furniture, as well.
"This is just the beginning," Jensen said. "Not only will we have contests, but my intent is to also have a repurpose club here on a monthly basis. People will come in for several hours and be able to work on projects here with the help of carpenters or handymen who can help them cut this and do that."
But for those who are eager to start upcycling, there’s no reason to wait for events such as the ones Jensen describes.
"We have so much stuff on the floor that I’m selling for $5 or $10 just because it’s got a broken roller or a broken foot or something like that," Jensen said. "You can take those things and fix them up."
For more information on the ReStore or the Habitat for Humanity, visit habitat-utah.org.
Habitat for Humanity ReStore
6280 Silver Creek Drive
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