From trash to treasure through 'upcycling'

From trash to treasure through 'upcycling'
Participate in Design founders Mizah Rahman (above, left) and Jan Lim with a stool made from magazines, and one of the families who have benefited from the project, with their unit made from a bed frame, shoe rack and cabinet.

At first, they met Maggie. Then they created Maddie, Mariah, Max and Mei Li.

These are names of stools, made from just old magazines and cable ties.

They were made by MacPherson residents and other members of the public who attended a workshop conducted by non-profit organisation Participate in Design (P!D) in April.

Said P!D co-founder Jan Lim, 27, a design consultant with an architecture firm: "We wanted to show how upcycling can be done. It's something so simple. You can collect magazines at home and just do it."

Unlike recycling, "upcycling" converts unwanted objects into usable ones without degrading the quality and composition of the waste material.

The workshop was part of P!D's latest initiative - The Upcycle Project - where MacPherson residents saw how their trash could be redesigned to become another person's treasure, even helping low-income families.

Over the past year, unwanted furniture was collected and converted into practical items for needy families in MacPherson.

Said P!D co-founder Mizah Rahman, 27, a research assistant at the Centre for Sustainable Asian Cities at the National University of Singapore (NUS): "We wanted residents to recognise their own capacity to contribute to their community, using the everyday objects they have."

Ms Lim and Ms Mizah - both architecture graduates from NUS - set up P!D last year in the belief that "everyone has the right to shape their built environment".

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