Improving waste management practices though a voluntary grouping of two local authorities in Northern Ireland.

Let’s get wasted


Let’s Get Wasted – Students turning Trash into Treasure

The Department of the Environment’s Rethink Waste campaign is sponsoring an innovative programme of free ‘Rethink – Revamp – Restyle’ workshops for students across Northern Ireland. The award-winning Fashion Souk is set to deliver the series of free workshops to raise recycling awareness amongst 18 – 25 year olds, and the students get to take their completed works home after the workshops, so they benefit in a practical way by restyling furniture for their homes.  Following the success of the first series of workshops that took place at the start of 2011, this batch of creative classes entitled ‘Let’s Get Wasted’ will take place in Belfast during the European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR) from 19-26 November and in the North West from 07 November – 07 December. 

Upcycled furniture is becoming increasingly current, not only because of the growing popularity in shabby chic interiors, but also because the recession has led young people to seek out alternative methods to furnish their home.  Not only are vintage items often better quality with interesting design features, revamping items helps reduce waste to landfill and sets the trend for smarter shopping.  

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said, “The Rethink, Revamp, Restyle workshops are an inspiring, innovative and fun way to communicate and demonstrate the benefits of upcycled furniture. Reusing an item of furniture saves the energy associated with manufacturing a new one, which has an enormous and positive impact on reducing CO2 emissions. 10 million items of furniture are thrown away in the UK every year, 3 million of these items could be easily reused; more could be repaired. I would encourage students to attend these workshops and discover how furniture upcycling can help reduce waste sent to landfill.” 

The student furniture and textiles workshops will demonstrate that, instead of blowing your budget to buy brand new furniture and clothes, with imagination and a little know-how you can restyle discarded furniture and soft furnishings and transform you oldest favourite T shirts, jumpers and skirts into something new, allowing them to live on in another form. Reusing and revamping will not only add personality to a dreary student flat, but will also save money.  All workshops are completely free of charge and once furniture and textiles are restyled and recycled, students are invited to take home their works of art to use themselves!

Creator and organiser Alyson McElroy said: “The reuse ethos is at the heart of everything we do.  This programme of student focused workshops is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how easy it is to breathe new life into unwanted items and thus divert waste from our ever decreasing landfill sites. We provide materials for each workshop and participants will take home the furniture and textiles they have repurposed. Our facilitators will cover everything including how to revamp old-fashioned tables and chairs to transforming jumpers into scatter cushions & wine holders. It is usually said one person’s trash is another one’s treasure, but we want students to recognise the treasure in their trash and inspire them to get creative, find new ways they can make waste work for their pockets and the environment.”

Free Belfast workshops and showcase event will take place from 19 – 26 Nov (European Week for Waste Reduction) and from 7 November to 7 December across Coleraine, Derry (showcase event on 19 November), Ballymena, Ballymoney, Magherafelt, Limavady, Strabane and Newtownabbey.  Log on to to register for a workshop at a college campus near you.  Let’s Get Wasted is sponsored by the Department of the Environment’s Rethink Waste campaign.

© North West Region Waste Management Group
  • Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council
  • Derry & Strabane District Council