Sustainability is a big part of our professional and personal lives, and we hope that by sharing some of our sustainable home improvements we will inspire you to not only live a greener life, but also save yourself some money and support your local community projects.
Construction time: 25 hours
Tools: Electric plane, electric screwdriver, electric sander & jigsaw
Cost: £50 (£40 for fabric and £10 for delivery of pallets)
Money saved: £550
Our home is an end of terrace victorian house built to squeeze in next to an existing 16th century cottage. As a result the house has no square corners which makes it very difficult to optimise space. We wanted a large sofa, but could only fit a flatpacked sofa through the hallway.
I decided that rather than spending £600+ on a planned obselesence Ikea job that wouldn't be a prefect fit, or spending £1000+ on a custom built sofa to fit the size, it would be better to just build one!
I found a not for profit social enterprise called Northampton Wood Recycling who offer training and volunteering opportunties to those who are finding it hard to enter employment. Especially the long term unemployed or those with learning difficulties. They offer a commercial waste collection service for a reasonable price and then give away the materials to recycling projects such as this one. We paid a £10 delivery charge for the 18 pallets required for the sofa.
I designed the sofa to fit a very awkward space and so needed foam blocks cut to a very specific size. I contacted our local foam company who quoted £180. I brainstormed different alternatives such as baby matresses since they shouldn't be resold for safety reasons. In the end I visited my local second hand shop who gave me two king sizes memory foam mattresses for free. The shop was unable to sell them due to a law that prevents the sale of mattresses without fire labels, but there is no law preventing them from giving them away! I measured them up and cut them with a bread knife.
I have lots of fabric laying around so only purchased some offcut upholstery fabric for the underside of the cushions. We have a fabric shop in Northampton called The Millshop that sells upholstery fabric offcuts from as little as £1 per sq mtr.
Construction time: 40 hours
Tools: Electric plane, electric screwdriver, electric sander & jigsaw, cement mixer, trowl, bucket
Money saved: £100 in waste disposal + £100s compared to having a custom shed built.
Again, the pallets came from Northampton Wood Recycling who charged just £10 for delivery.
The roof is made from military surplus reinforced rubberised PVC tarpaulin, that I purchased from the same place that we get the materials for the Wayfarer Collection from (can also be found at most Army Surplus stores for about £50). The Victorian bricks were recycled from an outside toilet that was in the sheds place. The cladding was donated to me by a landscaper who had surplus wood from a job. The only raw materials I purchased was sand, ballast and cement to lay the bricks and foundation.
The real aim of this project was to renovate the garden whilst disposing of as little as possible. It would have meant moving nearly two tonne of bricks and rubble through our home. All unnecessary rubble was used in the foundation and the bricks were recycled into the base of the shed.
I already have lots of screws, but I'v found out screws can be picked up very cheaply at car boot sales.
Construction time: 4 hours
Tools: chainsaw, electric sander, sewing machine, hammer.
cost: £3 for upholster pins and chainsaw fuel!
The log was collected from a tree that had fallen, and carved with a chainsaw sanded and waxed with beeswax. The foam on top came from the same source as the sofa and leather was cut from old sofas that were left on the side of the road. Other great sources of recycled leather inlude old leather jackets or offcuts from factories.