Upcycling and going circular with IKEA

IKEA ADVENT CALENDAR

I’ve been doing a massive clear out recently, in an effort to get the house neat and tidy (HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA) for Christmas. I am an extraordinary accumulator of THINGS. And I’m not sure how it happens… but charity shops with interesting pieces of old furniture have a lot to answer for. I blame them.

However, despite my adoration for all things old, I also have a whole lotta love for a beautifully designed, smart, straight (yes, I own a spirit level) unbroken, fully intact piece of inexpensive furniture, and it is for this reason that IKEA is literally one of my favourite places to be. I spend hours there, wandering the aisles, dreaming of having a bunkbed with a desk underneath it (childhood dream) a wall made entirely of their little wooden drawers (sigh) and a kitchen where herbs and plants could hang as stylishly as they do in their showroom… HOW DO THEY DO IT?! I should also mention that I could out-eat any of you when it comes to their meatballs. 20 meatballs? Sure. And some gravadlax to start, please.

IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling

What you may not know about IKEA is that they are one of the most brilliant, forward thinking and mindful companies I know of, when it comes to sustainability and our beautiful planet. Over the years they have come up with numerous ideas (and have actioned them – important to note) to develop their sustainability program and fine tune their furniture footprint, if you will, across the world. From having home solar (they have 750,000 solar panels on their stores and other buildings), veggie hotdogs and having their restaurant fronts made out of plastic bottles, IKEA want to inspire change… and they really, really are.

IKEA is committed to becoming a Circular business, aiming to design products that are 100% circular by 2030. What does this mean, you might ask? This means that every single one of their products will be designed from the very beginning with the idea in mind that they can, in the future, be repurposed, repaired, reused, resold, and recycled, generating as little waste as possible. YES, IKEA.

I love this so much. It’s so smart. It’s so inspiring. And it is so bloody sensible.

IKEA-circular-upcycling
This is one of the frames that were broken and so had been disposed of
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
I got to use a glue gun! Woo!
IKEA-circular-upcycling

To bring this idea to the forefront of all our brains, they have launched a series of DIY workshops at theIKEAir Greenwich – which opened earlier this year and is the company’s most sustainable store to date –  Store in theregularly hosts workshops at its Learning Lab to help . They are designed to encourage us all to grab those old, broken and unwanted items in our homes and take them along to the Learning Lab to make them into something new and gorgeous, to keep or to give as a gift. Many of the workshops are free and all are BIG FUN, with kiddiwinks welcome!

I went along to their workshop where we would be making Advent Calendars, using waste and recycled materials… I was very excited. VERY.

I took with me an old frame and a bundle of packaging cardboard, of which I appear to have an endless supply.

I was greeted by Sofia, _________ (can’t remember her name, sorry!) who was energetic and bubbly but not in any way manic, just genuinely excited about IKEA’s vision for the future and was thrilled that we’d all shown up for her workshop.

She began the session by showing us a few options of different advent calendars, which we could use as inspiration… or we could just go ahead and see where our creativity led us…

She then proceeded to explain how all the rubbish, waste and bits and pieces that would normally get thrown away at IKEA, now make their way down to the Learning Lab, to be used in all the different creative projects. Everything from broken frames, old wrapping paper and material off-cuts, to the little bits of cardboard that sit between the glasses in their boxes that stop them from breaking… and the lids from storage boxes that just get left behind… What they have there is a craft room that Blue Peter would be envious of. It is packed to the hilt with everything you can possibly imagine, to get your creative juices flowing.

IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
It was quite tricky cutting out the letters of Isabelle’s name – scissors weren’t working well so I used some craft knives instead – much easier.

It was only once I started to make my calendar that I realised I hadn’t been in a situation like this for years. And by that, I mean, a place where they have EVERYTHING you could possibly need to create. Paint, scissors, glue guns, paper, card, BIG tables to work at, total encouragement throughout the whole process and a YES YOU CAN attitude to everything. “Can I stick this to this?” YES. “Do you have some little hooks?” YES. Can I use that instead of this and break that and remove this?” YES YES YES.

I loved it. I realised I’d missed it. And also, I got to use a glue gun. Cue much excitement.

IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling

I transformed the old frame and cardboard into an Advent Calendar for Isabelle, which she can use for years to come. She’s currently only 18 months old, so will be happy if I blow a raspberry for her each day… but next year I intend to stick a chocolate coin behind each number… she’ll absolutely love it.

IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling
IKEA-circular-upcycling

I am more committed than ever to leading a more sustainable life – outside my home and within it, and having IKEA backing me all the way, not only makes it easier but makes me all the more determined.

Come on, team. Let’s do this.

If you fancy having a go at a spot of DIY yourself, see what other workshops are available at the IKEA, Greenwich here.


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