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Iceni Magazine | January 15, 2021

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Britain has become a nation of ‘upcyclers’ – with two thirds of adults eagerly fixing, customising and repurposing old household items

Britain has become a nation of upcyclers

Britain has become a nation of ‘upcyclers’ – with two thirds of adults eagerly fixing, customising and repurposing old household items.

A poll of 2,000 adults found the most popular items to revitalise are bookcases, plant pots and shelving – followed by bedside tables, desks and dinner table-style chairs.

A third of those polled actively seek out items to work their magic on, including old jars, mirrors and cushions, and have given a new lease of life to seven items on average.

More than three quarters of those polled, by GiffGaff, have even fixed up old tech items including lamps, phones and old televisions.

For 53 per cent, the appeal is transforming something old into something ‘new’, as they adore the process of bringing items back to life while 55 per cent like upcycling because it saves money.

But many are restoring old gadgets and gizmos to limit e-waste with 83 per cent concerned about the environmental impact of disposing of old tech.

A spokesman for GiffGaff said: “As the study shows, transforming old items has really taken off in the UK.

“And because there are many benefits it’s easy to see why – not only is this activity creatively fulfilling and money saving, it’s also fantastic for the environment because it reduces waste.

“Another appealing aspect is that you have something completely unique at the end of the process – which suggests people are perhaps tired of the same old offerings you might find in shops.”

The study also found eight in 10 adults ‘hate’ seeing perfectly good household items simply thrown away.

As a result, 72 per cent routinely try and find a use for old objects where they possibly can.

But half of adults believe upcycled items are more aesthetically appealing than items typically found in stores or online, while two thirds think they have more character.

Other popular items to bring back from the brink include armchairs and sofas, crates, bikes and light fittings.

Ceramics, hat stands and old sinks have also been given a new lease of life.

It also emerged 42 per cent want to expand their repertoire by being able to fix-up a greater range of old tech.

At the moment, when a gadget breaks or stops working completely, a third will arrange for someone else to restore it, but 23 per cent will simply throw it away and buy a new one.

And while 72 per cent of those polled via OnePoll will give away, sell or simply hold onto an unwanted item, 14 per cent will bin it, even if it is still working.

A spokesman for GiffGaff said: “E-waste is a massive problem but the fact 83 per cent are concerned about it shows that most people are aware of it – which likely wasn’t the case just a few years ago.

“Consumers are realising that tech items can still serve a purpose for someone else if not themselves.

“And this is important because the issue of e-waste is not going to go away anytime soon.”

GiffGaff has partnered with content creators passionate about all things refurbished, recycled or upcycled to share their knowledge and top tips.

Discover the top tips here:


1. Beds
2. Packaging
3. Stools
4. Crates
5. Footstools
6. Bikes
7. Blankets
8. Decking
9. Clothes hooks
10. Light fittings
11. Ceramics
12. Sleepers
13. Phone
14. Hat stands
15. TV
16. Washing machine
17. Sinks
18. Radio
19. Watch
20. Fridge

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