Something Old, Something New: How Upcycled Furniture can Help the Planet, Without Breaking the Bank

In 2020, the Scottish government announced a list of projects which will receive funding from 2020 to 2022 as part of Scotland’s ‘Climate Challenge Fund’ – a public initiative aimed at supporting Scotland’s communities in acting against climate change.

The campaign is managed by ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, supporting community-led projects and enterprises which target carbon-based emissions on a local level. These projects are grounded in energy efficiency and sustainability, encouraging recycling, at-home food growing, efficient travelling, etc.

Upcycling and Recycling: What and How?

One area which has seen focus on a national level is the push to repair, reuse, and upcycle old furniture, rather than buying new products.

As part of this initiative, local authorities including Glasgow City Council have instated projects like the ‘National Re-use Tool’, an online service which allows Scottish citizens to find information and advice relating to recycling their old furniture, including lists of accepted/non-accepted items, as well as a directory of organisations which accept used or upcycled furniture. 

If you have a sofa, desk, chest of drawers, or piece of furniture that you no longer use, there are many resources available which offer ideas and inspiration for DIY upcycling projects, as well as advice and tips for the best practices to follow when selling or donating a preloved, vintage, or recycled item. The British Heart Foundation’s ‘Upcycling Ideas’ is a good place to start, offering advice and tips from experienced upcyclers to beginners. 

Note – Care should be taken when embarking on an upcycling project, and the appropriate health and safety considerations should be made.

If you want to go even further than just upcycled furniture, read our advice on buying vintage or upcycled clothing, to find out how you can take an extra step to help the planet while also saving money and finding trendy pieces.

Why Upcycle?

According to Zero Waste Scotland, more than 125,000 sofas are thrown away annually, with just 15% being recycled or reused. The funding of Scotland’s Climate Challenge Fund is anticipated to help improve the sustainability and energy efficiency of Scotland’s communities from within, by encouraging carbon-reducing practices and initiatives on a local basis.

Aside from being more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, buying upcycled furniture offers benefits to consumers in that they are often much cheaper than buying new (sometimes with no cost at all) and are more sustainable, meaning that your piece will likely last longer than if you were to purchase a brand-new, low quality item. Beyond this, buying upcycled also helps to affirm local economies, by supporting small businesses and uplifting community organisations.

Advice for Consumers

So, what should consumers keep in mind when shopping for upcycled goods and furniture? There are several options when it comes to seeking more sustainable and energy-efficient alternatives for brand-new furniture. Importantly, especially in light of current Covid-19 restrictions which prevent face-to-face contact with those outside your household, many of these options take the form of online marketplaces and second-hand retailers.


Online retailers and marketplaces such as eBay, Etsy, Freecycle, and Preloved all offer consumers an online space to buy and sell upcycled and pre-loved furniture and household items.

These are just a few examples: there are many more websites which allow consumers to browse and buy upcycled furniture, without leaving the house. The Upcycle Company is an organisation which specialises particularly in the sale of upcycled furniture, meaning that consumers can find a large collection of recycled pieces in one place.

Buying Privately

Consumers should be aware that if they choose to buy a piece of upcycled or preloved furniture from a private seller, whether online or in person, the same policies may not be in place, and they may not be entitled to the same rights which they would receive in buying from a large retailer.

When considering buying upcycled from an online marketplace, consumers should first consult the website’s buyer policies: it is important to read and understand these policies, as they may affect a consumer’s right to return, repair, or refund in the event that an item is faulty or otherwise unsatisfactory.

If you are unsure about how your consumer rights may be impacted by buying online, or through a private seller, head to’s Knowledge Centre for more consumer rights guidance and advice – including buying from individual sellersinstore versus online shopping, and help with checking goods online before you buy.

If you would like advice or guidance on any consumer matter, you can contact on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
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