Upcycling rubbish clearance seems to have hit London with a splash! Everyone seems to be getting in on the fun, from those just hoping to save an old family heirloom to others who staunchly believe in using upcycling as a springboard to a zero waste society.

In fact, upcycling has become so popular in England’s capital that upcycling classes are now popping up all over the city. The mantra of the movers and shakers in this London movement seems to be, “Renew Don’t Buy New!” Rubbish clearance is no long considered “junk.” It is now the muse of a burgeoning waste free culture — and judging from the before and after photo galleries online, Londoners have discovered their creative mojo!

Before you decide to take an upcycling class, you should know that the activity is highly contagious and its “chicness” is spreading like wildfire. Among the most popular upcycling classes are those that teach participants how to upholstery and reupholstery old furniture that was being discarded as rubbish clearance. In some cases, you’d never guess how raggedy the old furniture was after the “upcycle” is complete — but of course the first thing you learn in upcycling classes is to take a “before picture” for proof!

Some Londoners who take their first upcycling class just want to save money (or make money) by rescuing their own rubbish clearance. However, many take that first class and then end up getting hooked on the tranquility these upcycling projects bring them. Some people claim it’s a zen experience. Others thoroughly enjoy meeting interesting and eclectic people. In this regard, it’s almost like a pub experience, only you have something to show for it, other than a pint breath! Some students who meet up in these classes end up collaborating on other upcycling projects together.

Upcycling rubbish clearance is also a source of pride as participants end up with a really cool object that was salvaged from an old piece of junk. They can show the “before picture” and talk about how their upcycling creation would have ended up in the landfill rotting away producing greenhouse gases and leaking toxic leachate into the ground water! They can talk about how they breathed new life and new vision into an old piece of junk. They can say they renewed the soul or spirit of the object or perhaps reincarnated it into a higher purpose!

Sometimes upcycling classes show up in the most unexpected places. Last February, the Royal Air Force Museum hosted an upcycling class with volunteers from the Loop at Grahame Park, piloted by Groundwork London and the London Community Reuse Network (LCRN). This group is funded by the European Commission’s LIFE+ Programme, not something you’d normally expect to see at the Royal Air Force Museum but it was a marriage made in heaven.

Some of the patrons who came to see the Royal Air Force Museum ended up taking the upcycling rubbish clearance class while people who came specifically to take the class ended up enjoying a museum they probably would not have visited otherwise. While participants in the class learned how to decoupage and tips on how to stencil, perhaps the greatest thing they learned was the joy of experiencing something new with a diverse group of people.

At the London Upcycling Show last November, there were many different upcycling classes offered, as well as inspiring upcycling exhibits. Rrubbish clearance that had once been thought of as useless was transformed into something that people highly desired. Afro Retro showed people how to convert Christmas jumpers, often tossed in the rubbish clearance bin after the holiday, into something more fashionable that could be worn year round. ThinkFOUND Furniture showed people how to make furniture out of scaffold boards.

The London Upcycling Show also featured unique and challenging upcycling rubbish clearance competitions with cash prizes. However, the camaraderie forged during these events meant so more more than the money prizes! Many contestants from last year are already planning the to attend the third London Upcycling Show coming up this fall and it promises to have even more participants. While some Londoners originally though that upcycling was just a fad, the growing success of events like these are proving that upcycling has staying power!

If you live in the UK and want to find an upcycling class in London or elsewhere, just Google it! The Old School Club, started by an entrepreneurial Mum, offers upcycling classes on sewing and upholstery. They even offer special upcycling classes for kids and upcycling parties for adults! London’s Obby was recently offering seventeen upcycling classes in their mix. Some people even seem to be turning upcycling rubbish clearance into a “money hobby!” Gumtree recently listed thirty-six upcycled living room furniture pieces for sale.

Many UK companies are catching the upcycling spirit as well! Clearabee is one of the best examples of this. Clearabee offers several rubbish clearance services. However, instead of taking the rubbish they clear to the landfill, or fly tipping it as so many others do, they make a concerted effort to divert the rubbish they collect from the landfill. They give top priority to upcycling whenever possible, following by resale/reuse and then recycling. In fact, Clearance upcycles, reuses, or recycles ninety percent of the rubbish they clear, giving them the best track record in the entire UK.

Using the services of Clearabee is the same as supporting upcycling, reusing, and recycling! Wouldn’t it be grand if one day our great great grandchildren read an old newspaper article from 2018 on “waste removal” and ask, “What’s that?” The London upcycling bug heads us in that direction for sure!