Alumni Spotlight: UpCycling Chris

3rd June 2013 by

In the third edition of our ‘ alumni spotlight’ we’re speaking to Chris, from our very first year of cycle tours with the Wild Wild West gang.

1.  What tour did you go on?

Wild Wild West 2008, the first year Otesha began their cycle tours in the UK.

2. What were your tour highs and lows?

Ah. Tis too far away now to clearly remember. A low was that most of the cycle team became ill at some point on tour and had to struggle on even so. We also had only three days of sunshine over the whole five week tour which was also tough! A high was skinny dipping in the freezing sea somewhere off the Welsh coast.

3. Briefly, what have you been up to since the tour?

Since the tour I spent eight months in India mostly learning how to teach Yoga. I then returned to the UK and did my conventional classroom teacher training and then spent three years teaching Religious Studies in a secondary school in London. During the summer holidays I became involved in our UK festival culture and now run Upcycle and am involved in the production of Cloud Cuckoo Land festival.

4. Tell us a bit more about Upcycle.

upcycleUpcycle is the most exciting work for me. We provide the Eco-Rangers and a Free Shop to small, environmentally conscious festivals. Its creative, dynamic and energising work and the project thrives on the enthusiasm of teams of brilliant volunteers. Each summer we visit four or five carefully chosen festivals and we’re looking out for volunteers at the moment. If you’re interested to work then please see our website (www.up-cycle.org.uk) for more information or e-mail me (chris@up-cycle.org.uk) with any questions.

5. What impact has the Otesha tour had on you?

The tour gave me a huge sense of adventure and confidence to follow my dreams. Meeting the other cyclists and sharing so much passion and love for life has stayed with me since. I’ve also been on four or five cycle tours, having had the safe experience with Otesha. I felt well prepared to create my own adventures on a bicycle.

6. Are you still involved with Otesha and how?

Not on a daily basis but I often go to meet ups in London, bump into cyclists on the Critical mass cycle ride and workDSCF0412 with many other tour participants over the summer months at various festivals.

7. What advice would you give to new tour members?

Dream big and share your passion with other tour members. So much can come out of the connections made on tour.

New year, new life for your festive waste

20th December 2011 by

We’ve been talking a lot about upcycling lately here, so it’s just got to be the theme of your monthly challenge.

If there’s ever a time when reusable waste gets sent in mind-boggling amounts to the landfill site, it’s post-Christmas. But as it’s Christmas, new year and winter solstice… what could be more appropriate than reflecting themes running through all of those festivals by giving new life to something?

Wrapping paper’s the obvious place to start – there is so much of it and so much you can make from it: why not shred your used or damaged giftwrap to make colourful protective packaging for a future gift? Or shred again for confetti. Wrapping paper can make some nifty outfits for paper dolls. Or even jewellery.

Or use it to make beautifully patterned origami – you could create a new post-Christmas tradition that by New Year’s Day your home will welcome the new year by being adorned with carefully crafted paper-folded birds.

Other Christmas waste is also brilliant for craft projects: tin foil from mince pies can become tree decorations; cards and cardboard are always reusable – here’s a nice idea using old playing cards to create notebooks, which could just as easily use greetings cards. Or make next year’s tree-top ornament.

Most homes, let’s face it, are going to have a fair number of empty wine bottles left after the festivities. Instead of sending them for recycling, why not go one better and make some beautiful ornaments? And don’t forget you can upcycle your corks, too.

And saving the best for last…

Is your once-trusty old Twister mat well past its useful life and been replaced by a new one this year? Here’s one way for the, er, fashion-forward among you to give it a second life.


We’d love to hear about or see your creations, so send them in to us at gavin@otesha.org.uk.


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