Yellow Arrow RGB




A massive issue in the UK is that more than half of our recyclable waste ends up in landfill or is destroyed. 22 million small items of furniture, more than 11,000 bicycles and over 28 million toys are thrown away each year, with fewer than one in 10 people attempting to repair their broken or damaged furniture.

This level of waste is placing huge demands on our countryside to create new landfill sites which contribute hugely to climate change and air pollution through greenhouse gases they release.

Waste is not only an environmental problem but also an economic loss. Many of these discarded items could be reused by low income families and people in crisis.

We can all do things to help tackle our ‘throw away’ culture. This challenge is all about looking at the items in our own homes that we deem useless or unwanted and transforming them into items we love.


This is a slightly longer challenge but we promise you the rewards will be well worth the effort! There are many ways to upcycle an item of furniture and we would urge you to pick an item in your home, get creative and research your own techniques online to reach your desired goal.

Upcycling should be fun and east so choose something accessible to start with.

Or have a go at our Decoupaging technique below which is super easy and fun for the whole family!

Your Challenge: Upcycle at home!

Materials you’ll need:

  • Glue (PVA)

  • Brush for the glue

  • Varnish (matt or gloss depending on the finish you want) and separate brush for varnish.

  • Wrapping paper/ comics/ tissue paper/ decoupage paper

  1. Select an item of furniture which is looking like it needs new life. This could be a side table top (just the surface) or a full item. If you don’t have an item of furniture, you can practice this with a photo frame.

  2. OPTIONAL: if you want the colours to stand out, you can paint your item with a base coat of white. This is not essential, so feel free to skip to point 3.

  3. Tear your chosen paper up into small pieces (4-3 cm wide), they can be rough and different sizes and shapes.

  4. Paste a layer of glue onto the item (flat surfaces are easier to start with). Place a piece of paper onto the glue and use your brush to smooth down with another layer of glue on top. You’ll have glue underneath and on top of the paper. Be sure to smooth out any air bubbles with the brush and place the paper down in a way that avoids creases or air bubbles. Air bubbles will get fewer as you get more familiar with the technique.

  5. Layer your papers to ensure the surface is fully covered. If you’ve done Papier-mâché before, it’s a similar technique.

  6. If you’re not happy and want to start again, the great thing about this upcycling technique is you can easily pull it off and restart.

  7. Once you’re happy with you finished design, allow the item to dry and then varnish. You may want to varnish a few layers depending on what the item is (e.g tables which will hold hot drinks could do with additional layers of varnish).

Example upcycled chest of drawerws

Don't forget to enter the competition!

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge

or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

What Groundwork is doing