Wick Curiosity Shop

The Collection

Re-use Resources




2013 ongoing


Hackney Wick


Sam Brown

A collection of reference points bringing together a documented knowledge-base on self-built projects that re-use or re-appropriate materials, from both within Hackney Wick and beyond. The resource list represents a component of the RUrban Wick ReUser Manual.

We're interested in detailed, material knowledge of re-using materials - down to the nuts and bolts. Literally. We're looking for any published resources (print or web-based) that could be termed 'how to' guides on re-using waste materials, 'upcycling' of materials for building with - if you have something to add, please get in touch.

If you're simply after some re-use eye-candy, take a look at our pinterest board (and pin some stuff on it!)

UK Re-use Centres and Networks:

SalvoWEB - The largest online directory of suppliers of architectural salvage and reclaimed buiding materials in the UK. SalvoWEB can be used by traders, dealers, builders, construction professionals and individuals to place ads, find materials and find suppliers. It can be quite fiddly to use, but has a lot of direct contacts for re-users and the connected industry. It comprises thre parts, inlcuding SalvoMIE (see below), a business directory amd a Wants and Offers section.

SalvoMIE - (Salvo Materials Information Exchange) is a spin-off of SalvoWEB that focuses on propagating the re-use of low-value salvage by builders, construction professionals and industry. It can also be used by DIYers and trade dealers. Users can place 'offers' and 'wants' and trade, and ads are free for people (not businesses) who want to buy or sell low value antique, reclaimed or salvage items.

National Wood Recycling Centre - The NWRC is a national organisation that coordinates a network of local timber reclaimation centres. Bromley, Gravesend and Epping are the nearest of these centres to London, with the Gravesend centre recently winning a contract with contractor Bam Nuttall to take reclaimed timber from the Queen Elizabeth Park Transformation contract (i.e. reclaiming materials discarded as the Olympic Park changes to legacy mode. The NWRC offers a databse of services useful for people looking to donate or sell reclaimed wood, as well as those looking to buy it. As a social enterprise, they offer some materials for free to other social enterprises, non-profits and charities.

Repair, Restart at Central St Martins, London - This project connects the dots between the growing number of electronics repair initiatives from the local to the international level, and promotes positive behaviour change in relation to electronics consumption by emphasizing repair over disposal and recycling. They organise self-help 'restart parties', map availabiity of repair services (initially in London with intention to scale up), organise workshops and lobby manufacturers to consider repair-friendly design of products.

The Goodlife Centre's Repair Cafe, Waterloo, London - (see also 'Repair Cafes' under International Re-use Networks') The Goodlife Centre hosts a regular free-to-attend Repair Cafe event with the support of the 'Repair, Restart' project (see above), to which visitors are encouraged to bring their broken items from home for assessment, incuding clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances and toys. If deemed repairable by the organisers, visitors can start making their repairs in the Repair Café. DIY and electrical experts from The Goodlife Centre are on stand-by to advise and a selection of tools and materials will be made available for use on the day. It’s an ongoing learning process in a friendly social environment with plenty of tea or coffee on hand! In the UK, repair cafes also happen in the Malvern Hills and Brighton - who also have a 'Repair Resources' listing for the Brighton area.

Brixton Remakery (formerly the Brixton Reuse Centre), Brixton, London - The Remakery is currently in a process of community self-build, developing their site with a largely volunteer workforce, and aiming to open in late summer 2013. A renovated, disused underground carpark will provide a base for a re-use network, offering membership of both the network and the phyiscal space of the Remakery, where people can access a new co-working and educational space for re-using, repairing and upcycling. Through providing access to discarded material streams, distribution networks and business development support, the Remakery will create a centre for the exploration of materials and hidden community skills.

Re-use in the Olympic Park - Another BioRegional report concluding that more could have been done to re-use or reclaim materials during the original construction of the London 2012 Olympic Park, highlighting an ambiguous definition of 're-use' as the root cause of this deficiency.

Emmaus Greenwich, Greenwich / Plumstead / Lewisham, London - Emmaus Greenwich is a homelessness charity that now has two Community Shops, one in Plumstead and another in Lewisham. The shops enable Companions - beneficiaries of the charity - to support themselves and the wider Community by collecting, refurbishing and selling donated goods, recycling unwanted furniture, which would otherwise end up in landfill, and providing a good supply of household goods at reasonable prices.

Recipro, UK-wide (online network) / ReciproCityWirral, NW England and ReciproCityCardiff, Wales - Recipro is principally an online exchange for construction surplus and re-usable materials, aiming to redistribute surpluses from projects that have them to projects that need them. Recipro can be used to pass on leftover building supplies or to source good quality, low cost construction materials - materials are mostly sold, but at hugely discounted rates. As well as an exchange, Recipro offers a corporate service, designed to enable contractors and their supply chains to minimise waste and re-use what remians. They also run a database of charity and community projects looking for building materials, You can follow them on Twitter here and download their brochure here. They also have their own resources page and re-use news service here and maintain a blog here.

Waste Producer Exchange, south-east UK - WPE is an online waste and materials trading platform, aimed very much as providing corporate consultancy for clients looking to turn their waste stream into cash. WPE provides a tool, which businesses then use to manage their own waste streams, and then to connect to and trade securely with other buyers and sellers.Waste materials are placed on the WPE site, and they enter the sales auction process. Once the Seller and a Buyer agree a price for the materials, WPE allows collections to be arranged directly. The Buyer has to place the agreed funds into a WPE holding account prior to collection. Sellers can see that the funds are available before collection proceeds. Once the collection proceeds, the funds are released to the Seller via a BACS transfer. They also have their own 'useful links' section here. - “Remember, your waste is someone else’s valuable commodity!” (WPE).

Freecycle and Freegle, UK (and Worldwide) - Freecycle groups are web-based platforms that match people who have things they want to get rid of with people who can use them. The worldwide Freecycle Network is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns, and their goal is to keep usable items out of landfills. Everything posted must be free, legal and appropriate for all ages. Users of freecycle sites will have heard about problems between the UK and US versions -The upshot is that several UK sites have left freecycle and formed their own network called Freegle.

ReTrader - Retrader is a Vyouz Group (online trading platform for unwanted stuff in general). ReTrader specifically is a free online materials exchange used by business, charities, community action groups, local government and associated agencies to increase the lifetime of useful materials. Vyouz Groups can be setup within the ReTrader umbrella, usually county-focused. Only Oxfordshire currently exists as a ReTrader group.

Eastex - The Eastex National Materials Exchange is a free online service for businesses and other organisations that helps to keep reusable items in circulation and out of landfill. The online forum allows you to place adverts and pictures for available or wanted items - although it currently only operates in the East of England and Yorkshire & Humber regions.

WhyWaste?, Yorkshire & Humber region, UK - WHy Waste? is a free online exchange for business waste in the Yorkshire & Humber region of the UK with over 3600 members. It offers its members reduced business waste disposal costs, access to a source of valuable resources, free business waste advice helpline and site visits and a free quarterly newsletter featuring selected waste offers and requests and the latest in business waste developments. It also keeps a databse of succesful 'waste matches' here.

The Community Resource Network UK (national) - CRN UK is a national voice for community based sustainable resource management and reduction. CRN UK has 131 full members (Community-based, not-for-profit & co-op groups involved in reduce, re-use and recycling projects) and 61 Associate members (organisations/ companies providing tangible benefits to Full CRN UK Members). The CRN lobbies at a local and national level, raising re-use and recycling on the political agenda.

The Museum of Bad Design - The Museum of Bad Design stems from the work of WRAP (described below), which aims to enable waste to be 'designed out' of systems of production and consumption. The Museum seeks to provide a forum for people to raise their concerns about products that are wasteful, and to exchange ideas with industry about how they could be improved. It is an emerging project, with its launch set for the end of April 2013, but the initial 6-month trial aims to establish an audience for the museum, to build a network of researchers and re-designers, and work with industry on at least one re-design of a product, chosen form a feasibility study of many more. You can watch a video outlining the concept here and a Tumblr group - in lieu of a proper website still in development - here. The project also has links to the European Zero-Waste Research Centre, based in Italy (see below). Contact Johnathan Essex at BioRegional for further details.

Enviromate® was developed and is run by two 'green entrepreneurs' who come together with a combined vision and hope of creating a more sustainable and waste conscious construction industry at every level. Both working extensively within the construction industry, in that duration it has been clearly visible first-hand the extent of wasted materials in the industry and the damage/issues caused to the global environment.

This led the Enviromate® team to create a free, online & easy to use platform to list, search and trade surplus and reusable materials for small and medium organisations for free or at a small cost to one another, or for larger construction organisations to supply surplus to charities or community projects in the UK or Internationally.

Enviromate enables organisations in the UK and across Europe, large or small to join forces to combat and reduce this ever growing situation and help not only future sustainability and reuse of vital materials, but more importantly become a responsible organisation that is the ENVIRONMENTS MATE!

International Re-use Networks:

Kunst-Stoffe Berlin, Berlin, Germany - Kunst-Stoffe is a collection and distribution center for scraps and trash that can be creatively reused for art and culture, stimulating creativity and environmental awareness.

SuperUse Studios, Rotterdam, Netherlands - Harvestmap.nl website and Materials Studio, based in Rotterdan, Netherlands.

Rotor - Opalis, Brussels, Belgium - Opalis project connecting re-users in Belgium.

The ReBuilding Centre, Portland, Oregon, USA - The ReBuilding Center carries a large volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials.

The Plant, Chicago, USA - The Plant is a a new kind of organization in a very old building. By connecting outputs of one business to the inputs of another, they harness value from materials that most people would throw away, and work to show what truly sustainable food production and economic development looks like - farming inside an old meatpacking facility, incubating small craft food businesses, brewing beer and kombucha, and doing it all using only renewable energy that we make onsite. An overview video can be found here.

UrbanOre EcoPark, San Francisco, USA - This longstanding (since 1976) for-profit salvage-and-sales operation operates both a flying salvage service diverting reusables from landfill and a city-centre drop-off and resale facility in downtown San Francisco. The General Store re-sells salvaged, cleaned and upcycled furniture, clothes and other goods, whilst the Urban Ore Building Materials Exchange (BMX) re-sells salvaged and surplus raw materials. All staff are paid - no volunteers - as Urban Ore seeks to build capacity in the re-use industry as a viable commercial business. The business also operates in a highly transparent manner, and employees participate in profit-share as a perfromance incentive. A list of what the cannot process can be found here.

Repair Cafes, Netherlands (and the UK, USA, Canada, Belgium, Brazil and Germany) - Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You will also find repair specialists such as electricians, seamstresses, carpenters and bicycle mechanics. See 'The Goodlife Centre' under 'UK Re-use Networks' for UK-based repair cafes.

Kollabora, New York, USA - Mainly web-based network orinetated around sewing, knitting and jewelry-making and where DIY-ers can share projects, instructions, techniques, supplies and tools they’ve used to create, and ask and answer questions.

Community Re-use Network, Ireland - The Community Reuse Network is the all-island (Ireland and Northern Ireland) representative body for community based reuse, recycling and waste prevention organisations. CRN members are involved in both direct reuse and preparing for reuse activities.

Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) Waste Exchange, state of Connecticut, USA - A good illustration of support for recycling and re-use at State authority level in the USA, providing a web-based point-of-reference linking up Re-use centres for the Arts, for Building, and more general Waste Exchange networks.

Film Biz Recycling, Gowanus, Brooklyn, USA - Film Biz Recycling (FBR) diverts no-longer-needed set materials to local charities and operates a creative reuse center and prop shop in Brooklyn, USA.

Materials for the Arts, New York, USA - MfA collects unneeded materials from businesses and individuals, and makes these donations available for free to nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies, and public schools. They operate a warehouse in partnership with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and with support from the City’s Department of Sanitation and Department of Education. They also have a gallery of projects here.

The Scrounger's Centre for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP), San Francisco, USA - SCRAP is a non-profit creative reuse center, materials depot, and workshop space founded in 1976 in San Francisco, California. Donations of quality re-usable materials such as textiles, buttons, paper, craft and office supplies, plastics, and wood are collected from businesses, institutions, and individuals then sorted and made available to teachers, parents, artists, and organizations. They maintain a Creative Reuse Flickr group here.

US Re-use Centres, USA - There are a number of re-use centres across the USA, all with similar operating models. Many operate on the basis of salvage / donation and re-sale for profit, and many also offer deconstruction services. Take a look at The ReCONNstruction Centre; Reusable Green Works; Ecobuilding Bargains; Urbanminers; Green Demolitions; ReNew Salvage; Boston ReStore; BuildItGreenNYC.

European Zero-Waste Research Centre, Capanorri, Italy - Its official website is in Italian, but you can read about the Centre in English here. The Centre aims to establish exactly what comprises the things we throw away (after separate waste collection and recycling initiatives have taken out some waste), and then work with researchers and industrial designers to optimise processes of production and distribution to design out waste.

Individual Material Processes:

Furnace Park Pallet Re-Use Guides - 'How-To' guides for re-using pallets to make sturdy furniture and tools. Courtesy of the University of Sheffield School of Architecture Live Projects programme.

Re-Tread Tyre logs - retaining walls, highway noise barriers, sandbag replacements for erosion control and security barricades, and as an earthquake-resistant home building material.

Upcycling Plastic Bags - knitting, fusing and otherwise transforming plastic bags into building products, such as rope, webbing, tarp and net.

Re-Fuze - The name Re-fuze came about as part of finding stuff that would be too far gone to repair but could be taken apart to make something new. General point of reference for interesting re-arrangements of past-their-best items and materials, including OSB, copper pipe, school science labs, pallets, and scaffolding boards.

Reestore- Bedfordshire-based Reestore take everyday waste objects and playfully upcycle them into a range of handmade products for the home and for the office, predominantly chairs and desks. They've also (succesfully!) appeared on the BBC's Dragon's Den TV series, securing investment to scale up their business.

Re-using Toilet Bowls - A guide to re-using salvaged toilet bowls in new toilets from US-based Urban Ore.

Lead-based paints - tips from US-based Urban Ore on how to re-use materials and items that are covered in lead-based paint.

Metal Sheet Piling - Tony Hobba Architects in Australia have re-used metal sheet piling - reclaimed from emergency flood defenses and now no longer needed - in the coffee-selling Third Wave Kiosk in Torquay, in the Australian state of Victoria.

Re-using Windows and Window Frames - A community centre, art gallery and design showroom in Eindhoven's Strijp-S area, designed by Piet Hein Eek and directed by Drenthe Village Angels, uses an assemblage of re-used windows and window frames to enclose a space beneath a highway flyover.

Re-Use Research & Overviews:

BioRegional - WRAP Reclaimed Building Products Guide - The document covers a range of products and materials commonly used in new build and refurbishment for housing, commercial and public sector projects. Its purpose is to help identify how to substitute new products with reclaimed alternatives. The document has a comprehensive overview of value-benefit to clients and designers, as well as deisgn considerations that designers should take into account when designing for re-use. Backed up by a few reflected case studies of building projects that have re-used materials.

BioRegional - Reclamation Led Approach to Demolition- This report from BioRegional's Reclamation Team aims to outline specific steps that will encourage and inspire clients and contractors to specify and deliver increased levels of reclamation on all demolition projects. Its overarching themes for facilitating reclamation include: allowing sufficient time and space, and clear communication of the benefits of reclamation. The report includes fourteen case studies that set out the cost and carbon savings that have been achieved through increased reclamation, on sites in the UK and overseas.

BioRegional - Viability of Building Material Reuse Centres inthe UK - This MSc investigation, written in collaboration with Andy Edwards at Oxford Brookes University. Although it principally examines establishing a BMRC in Oxfordshire, identfying prospective partners and alocally-specific business model, its findings are transferable. It published a detailed table of common challenges and associated actions required, across a number of case studies.

BioRegional ReClaimed - Using Reclaimed Materials To Develop The Thames Gateway - This report - publicjed in January 2006 - concludes a six month investigation into the feasibility of widespread use of reclaimed materials in the construction industry, using the Thames Gateway development as a virtual testing ground.

Other Interesting Things:

The Story of Stuff Project - The Story of Stuff is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time. Free Range Studios founded the non-profit Story of Stuff Project in 2008 to respond to tens of thousands of viewer requests for more information and ways to get involved, and they continue to produce short films about our relationship with the production, consumption and disposal of various forms of stuff.

The Lone Recycler - playful comic book published by US-operation Urban Ore in 1984, communicating the value of recycling in a fun way.

The Energy Cafe - Whilst not strictly made from reclaimed materials, the Energy Café shares the spirit of re-use. Recently - and sadly - stolen by theives, the mobile Energy Cafe became a temporary, mobile, free zone from 2007-12, revealing local issues, needs and desires of the community, it encouraged people to take responsibility for their own health and safety, to use initiative, common sense, to play, experiment, invent, to have bonfires, to cook and to eat together outdoors.

Mens Sheds UK - A MensShed is a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden – a place where he feels at home and pursues practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A MensShed offers this to a group of such men where members share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. A place of leisure where men come together to work. Although Sheds mostly attract older men, some have included men of any age, women and young people - there are over 30 in the UK, and over 800 worldwide, mostly in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada and the USA. Read more here.

RecycleNow - RecycleNow is a general educational resource about industrial recycling in the UK, and have some entertaining and informative videos on the recycling processes associated with common household waste materials - here.

UK's First Waste House - 'The House That Kevin Built' - BBM Sustainable Design have made this animation describing what they consider to be the UK's first Waste House, made entirely from waste materials, in London's docklands district. The house was designed to be built in just 5 days, as a showhome for the Grand Designs Live exhibition. It has since been dismantled and is due to be resurrected at the Building Research Establishment's Innovation Park in Watford. The hous emay alkso be rebuilt on the campus of the University of Brighton, as a demonstration home for an innovative approach to re-using waste. BBM Sustainable Design's website can be found here. You can watch an excerpt from a special programme on Grand Designs Live, made bythe University of Brighton, here, and a special video about the house here.