One man’s trash is another one’s treasure and Australians are embracing the movement of upcycling and recycling.

A report by Planet Ark shows that in the past year, nearly nine in 10 Aussies saved furniture like chairs and bookcases from landfill and either used it in their home or sold it on.

I have been one of those nine Australians which contributed to the increase in our upcycling economy.

When I had to furnish my apartment two years ago from scratch, I made the conscious decision to try and be as environmentally sustainable as possible.

According to, the average person spends around $8000 on furnishing their apartment with basic items like a dining set, sofa, coffee table, bed frame, mattress and other items like balcony furniture, pots, pans, cutlery and side tables.

But by trawling through places like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, I managed to get a sofa, armchair, mattresses and bookcases for free. New, that would have set me back around $7145. All up, by looking for second hand gems, I spent around $380, including removalists, instead of $7281. That’s a total savings of $6981.

But Australia’s enthusiasm for the trend also indicates a growing appreciation for restoring and rehoming treasures and a desire to slow down mass consumer buying.

“Seeing Australians take proactive steps to reduce waste through circular economy strategies is extremely encouraging and highlights the opportunity to encourage and enable further action,” Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko told The Canberra Times.

Several mothers have around Australia have embraced the upcycle economy and have made thousands from their new-found hobbies.

A young Queensland mother, Lainey, who was stood down from her job during the COVID-19 pandemic thought about ways that she could make money.

Trawling through Gumtree, she found hundreds of pre-loved items like couches, coffee tables and chairs. With some TLC, creative flair and a lick of paint, she sold each of those pieces turning over

a tidy profit. Using her painting and sewing skills she was able to earn an average $400 to $500 profit.

Laura Vendal, a Victorian mother made $15,000 simply from decluttering. She was out of space and thought about what she could get rid of. She then sold some of her unwanted goods on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and WorkApp.

Her best sale was a Vintage Brothers Sportiboy rocking horse from the 1920s or 1930s which she sold for $5000. She also sold some of her designer clothes and shoes which netted her $1500.

Natalie Hawkins created a Facebook and Instagram account called likeold_furniture during COVID after being inspired by other people’s upcycling posts. Her first piece she redid, sold within the first hour.

“My first piece turned out beautiful and sold so quickly on Facebook Marketplace. It was rewarding that it sold so quickly and that someone else liked what I did.”

Sian Gordon upcycles furniture that she finds on the street or Facebook Marketplace. She has spent $1,489 on items and materials which she has then sold for $2,779 on Facebook Marketplace and Instagram.

Some of the items she’s upcycled include a trolley which was converted into a gin cart where she added lights, handles and a glasses rack; an old IKEA Malm bedside table with new handles and an old Poang chair also from IKEA which been upholstered and painted.

“The key to upcycling is pretty simple – the waste product in question needs to be transformed into something people will actually want to buy. While they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, your product still needs to appeal to as many people as possible, says Finder Shopping Expert Chris Jager.

“This is where creativity can really help. When combining old products into new ones the end result needs to be attractive or eye-catching in some way. If you’re not artistically minded, sites like IKEA Hackers can provide plenty of inspiration when it comes to up-cycling your old furniture.”

Data from Finder’s Consumer Sentiment Tracker shows that the most popular way Aussies generate extra income is by selling second-hand furniture. Around 15 per cent of Aussies have made additional income by selling second-hand furniture online. The average they make each month is $237, which is enough to cover the latest cash rate rise of 0.50 per cent.


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