How I helped save the environment – sort of.

At heart I’m an environmentalist. Well, in theory at least.

My car for the last few years has an appallingly low MPG – especially when I follow the ‘drive it like you stole it’ method, which is often – but I’ll be replacing it soon. I’ll do my best to get something less damaging next time. To be honest, it’d be hard to get anything worse…

And I fly back and forth between the UK and Spain a lot.

Which is why I said I’m an environmentalist in theory at least. I know we all need to do what we can to help the planet and I could do better.

When I moved house recently my ex-wife and I agreed she could have our leather sofas. She has a rental villa and has been using the landlord’s sofas since she moved in. She has our dogs and she’d prefer them to ruin our sofas rather than someone else’s so I was happy to let her take them.

In fact, I was looking forward to getting a new comfy fabric sofa – something I’ve not had for years because of the dogs.

But then I was browsing the local buy/sell/swap forums on Facebook and noticed a pair of leather sofas that looked very similar to ours. And then I noticed it was a friend who was selling them!

I asked her to let me have first refusal, which she did. They weren’t in great condition (as she readily admitted) but they were solid and comfortable. Clearly very well made sofas.

I’m in a DIY mood at the moment so I decided to take them with the aim to restore them.

She was advertising them for only 80 euros but she refused to take any money, saying she was going to give them to any friend who wanted them anyway.

As it turned out I knew she wanted a pair of bedside cabinets to do up, and I saw some in a shop so I sent her a picture to see if she liked them. She did, so I got bought them and gave them to her. They were less than the cost of the sofas but I took her for a pizza too so all-in-all it was a good swap and I felt better than taking them for free.

So I repaired a couple of tears (the worst is in the photos – that was after I opened it up to repair it, it wasn’t that bad when she had it), sanded down some pet scratches on the arms, removed the old protection/dye with alcohol, re-dyed them and then protected the leather.

Getting hold of the dye around here was pretty hard, but eventually I tracked some down (and don’t ask about the environmental impact of the dye please – it stank, so it can’t be good, but I’m trying to justify something here and facts might get in the way…)

And of course I made a total mess of my hands. I spent hours scrubbing the dye off using everything I could think of (including swarfega, pure alcohol, and nail varnish remover). I had to go to a funeral this week with some of the dye still on my hands…

It took a few days (not whole days, just a few hours here and there) to do them, and they’re still not perfect but they look a lot better and as I said, they’re decent and comfortable sofas.

They’re a bit darker than I’d prefer, but it was hard enough getting dye here in the first place and the choice was this or black.

So, yes, I could have bought a new sofa (with the benefits to the economy and employment that would bring) but instead I restored a decent sofa and hopefully helped the environment a little. And I bought enough dye, leather cream, alcohol, and a spray-gun (which I’ll use again for other jobs) so it’s not as if the economy has been totally short-changed.

I’ve also recently repaired my outdoor sofa (the winter rain over the last few years had caused the base to rot so I had to replace a fair bit) and I’m near the end of a make-over of a cheap second-hand pine bedroom cabinet I bought for 50 euros, using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint which is low VOC and ‘environmentally friendly’. I’ll post pics of that when it’s finished.


Does all this mean I can I carry on driving my 4.5L V8?…

Oh ok… it was worth a try.

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  1. @PlanetBratfink

    4th April 2015 at 2:03 am

    Nice job! Not a lot of people would even know how to begin to repair a tear in leather. 🙂


    • John

      4th April 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks! I did a bit of research beforehand. Not the best job in the world but passable and fun!


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