There are three letters that can strike fear in to the hearts of many of us. Three letters that mean we won’t be having a day off or going down the pub. Three letters that will incite arguments, create mess, ruin our weekends and make us wonder why the hell we bothered. I’m referring to DIY, do it your self, or as it should be called; spend lots of money, fall out with everyone you hold dear, and then wish you had paid someone else to do it for you. We often DIY, and whilst the end result is always satisfying, getting there is painful. We once had what I can only describe as an end of days argument whilst trying to hang a blind. Just ruin the entire bloody house then, I remember shouting as I stormed out of the front door. Those kinds of DIY induced spats are easy to deal with, we apologise, admire the thing we fell out about and then move on. Painting, however, is an entirely different thing. The tension starts to rise as soon as the rollers come out. We point out missed bits and bad cutting in. We offer each other helpful advice on what could be done better. We wind each other up until we are both silently seething with anger, but pretending we are fine. No, really, I’m fine.
Each painting ordeal culminates in a special treat, a trip to the dump to get rid of the left over paint. It’s like a cleansing action, a closing ceremony to put the day of painting behind us. We drive to the tip on South Access Road, try and avoid being shouted at by the guys that work there (they are very keen to tell people which skips things should go in), and drop the paint at the recycling point. We go back home, feel smug as we admire our handy work, crack open a beer and there ends the story. Of course, the story doesn’t really end there, the paint that we have left at the tip doesn’t sprout legs and spend the rest of its time on earth living a free life in the wild. Something has to happen to it, and that’s where the Forest Recycling Project come in.
The project is based just off Hoe Street at 2c Bakers Avenue, directly behind the wonderful Hornbeam cafe. The entrance is painted green, but being a small side door, you could easily walk past it without spotting it. What lies beyond the door way is a charity and social enterprise that has been hard at work in and around East London since 1989. FRP run a number of projects, one of which being the Paint Place. They collect the paint that people like me abandon at tips, they sort it, mix it, and then sell it at reduced costs from the the premises on Bakers Avenue. They have a particular focus on selling to and working with people with lower incomes, local charities and community groups.
Shed Homewares is also based at the Paint Place. Shed, like FRP, specialise in recycling and up-cycling the stuff that the rest of us throw out. That makes them sound a bit like Wombles doesn’t it? If they are Wombles, then they are Wombles with a good eye for design. The re-purposed items they sell are fantastic. Lamps made of old copper pipes, cabinets, cupboards, chairs and more. I was particularly keen on a bar stool which had copper pipes for legs and a recycled wooden top. Most of the re-purposed furniture and up-cycled stuff is at the back of the paint place, but the layout is nicely hap hazard. You may well find a magazine rack or a planter nestled in amongst the paint and scaffold boards, which by the way sell for £3.00 a meter.
The inside of the Paint Place is a reminder just how wasteful we humans can be. The shelves are lined with tin after tin of paint. Where shelves are full, the tins have made their way on the floor. All of this stock, all of the furniture probably would have made its way to landfill if it hadn’t been for FRP and Shed Homewares. When we take stuff to the tip, it doesn’t just vanish in to thin air, it needs to be dealt with. These two local organisations not only deal with our mess, but turns it in to something that can be used by others. By selling the recycled paint at reduced prices, the Recycling Project are giving individuals and organisations access to paint, who otherwise may not have been able to afford it. DIY may be dull, but 2c Bakers avenue is anything but. The paint place is open 10-4 Tuesday to Friday, and 10-2 on Saturdays. Pay them a visit or check their site for more info.