A new lease of life

Recycling parts or upcycling is a great way to create furniture that better suits your style – and it’s good for the environment, too, as it contributes to the circular economy. This is a system where we reuse items over and over again, instead of disposing of them. The Library of Things in Finsbury Park – a social enterprise that allows people to rent out useful items like drills and sewing machines – is a great resource to help you do just that. Tsui-Yee Lau tells us how a hired sander helped transform her old furniture

I moved away from London during lockdown returning only recently, as things have started opening again. In need of some storage space, I took a chest of drawers from my mum and decided to give them a bit of a makeover.

I’ve never refurbished anything before; this was a first time project for me. My job involves design, though, so I’m good with my hands and quite creative.

I thought I would borrow a sander from a friend but with everyone working from home, it was difficult to find a time to meet up. That’s when I was told about the Library of Things – I’d never considered hiring DIY tools before.

Drawers before

It was so convenient: I looked online to see if they had the tool I was looking for and I was able to book the item on the website. They contacted me quickly after booking to arrange pick-up, as opening hours were different around the Christmas period.

I cycled to the store to pick up the sander and was met by a member of staff, but it was so easy I wouldn’t have had any problems getting the tool if I hadn’t had help.

I used a screen to check out the item – much like the check-in screens at a GP surgery – which asked me to confirm that the item available was what I had booked. It listed the items that I would pick up. In addition to the tool, I was provided with sandpaper, goggles and a dust mask, which was really helpful. Once I confirmed the booking, the screen told me which locker the items were in and automatically unlocked it. I packed them in my bag and cycled home!

Having never used a tool like this before, it was helpful that when I booked the sander, there was a link to YouTube tutorials on how to use it.

Drawers after

Once I got going, it became clear how much faster I was able to complete this recycling project than if I had stuck to my original plan of hand-sanding. The tool was really easy to use, too. In fact, I was enjoying the process so much that while I had the sander, I decided to also upcycle a mirror.

I would absolutely recommend Library of Things to others. It’s a great initiative that saved me money and saved my chest of drawers. At £9 to borrow the sander for 24 hours, I thought it was quite cheap. I also liked that the 24-hour timeframe was flexible – I could drop it off any time the following day rather than 9am to 9am, for example.

By sharing items like this tool among the local community, it gives people the opportunity to reduce waste and in my case, give existing products a new lease of life. It’s nice to support local initiatives that benefit the whole community.

Find out more about Library of Things

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