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Project Best Life | Upcycling

This series is sponsored by Project Best Life. Buffalo Rising and Project Best Life have teamed up to produce a series on wellness inspiration and advice to direct readers to the people, places, and experiences in Buffalo and beyond that will help them fulfill their health, nutrition, and wellness goals. For more information on how you can live your best life, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.


Unlike the common notion that new is better, newness does not necessarily mean better value, and most times, it means overused, mass produced and cheaply fabricated materials. Much like the dangers of the fast fashion industry, the fast furniture industry poses just as much concern. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans throw away 12 million tons of furniture and opt for “new” goods from places that are cheap and easily accessible. This gives rise to a number of ethical dangers that are ultimately adding to our climate and environmental crisis.

Instead of opting for a fast fix solution, consider the value of furniture you already own! With help from neighbors just around the corner, there is potential to make any furniture piece into something that is sure to serve you for the years to come.


The Tool Library

One of the biggest intimidations when doing at home DIY projects of any sort is how expensive buying the necessary tools can be. Whether you’re like me with not much knowledge of tools, or your knowledge is extensive but the means to get tools are limited, there is a saving grace for this ever-present problem. Thanks to our friends at the Tool Library, there is now a one stop shop for all things necessary to jumpstart some new projects.

Founder and Board President of the Tool Library, Darren Cotton, started this initiative ten years ago as a UB graduate and it has since expanded into something that is changing the game for so many people.

“While I was a grad student at UB, I was living off campus and running into the issue of being broke and not having money to afford tools.”

This idea soon sparked into what would become a company that is helping hundreds around the city live out their DIY dreams. Their tool selection includes just about anything you need to get projects around the home done and with this low cost yearly membership you no longer have to scramble when it comes to needing tools.

“Members can gain access to our entire inventory of tools which range anywhere from your basic hand tools, all the way up to things like chop saws, pressure washers, lawn mowers, weed whackers- we’ve got about 4,000 items in inventory. So just about anything you can imagine. The goal here is to remove cost as a barrier to people wanting to fix up their homes, start gardens and even groups looking to organize events in their community.”

Cotton shared that one of the most beautiful things about the Tool Library is their diverse members. This place is one that can make any newbie to tools feel comfortable and sure that they will be sent home with just what they need.

“So many different people from so many different backgrounds use it in different ways. Homeowners that are looking to tackle a DIY project and don’t want to go to a big box store and drop $300 on a tool they’re only going to use once. We’ve got lots of renters, especially being in University Heights. Students obviously don’t have a ton of tools, so looking to put a bed or a shelf together, to mount the TV- super convenient for things like that. We’ve had block clubs doing tree plantings or building community gardens, and we’ve even had people who are active with local theaters who have used some of our tools to build sets.”

When thinking about an upcycling project, don’t let the cost of tools discourage you- the Tool Library has that covered! To learn more about memberships, hours and any other questions you may have visit their website at https://www.thetoollibrary.org

5 W. Northrup Place Buffalo, NY 14214 | 716-510-1745
Website | Facebook | Instagram


ReUse Action

Now that we have the tools taken care of, it’s time to get to work. With an abundance of upcycled materials at places like ReUse Action, you can find just about everything you need to turn anything into a prized possession.

“We sell all kinds of reclaimed items from household stuff to barns and building materials. We do a lot of barn wood, and we do lots of furniture, art, antiques and picture frames- all kinds of stuff that basically is in somebody’s way and has to get out.”

Walking into ReUse Action is like heaven for the DIY king or queen. There are doors, chair legs, radiators and riches galore hiding behind every nook and cranny. Not only is the inventory a spectacle to enjoy, but the store manager, Kevin Hayes, and his staff are knowledgeable beyond belief when it comes to upcycling old materials and furniture into something new.

“So, upcycling is taking something that somebody else has thrown away often. Right? Because a lot of people do upcycling by taking things off the curb and they clean it up a little bit, put some paint on it or some varnish on it, hang it on the wall, and there they have something that is inexpensive and just the way they want it to be. Add a little bit of creativity to it and make something better and different.”

For many people, upcycling is much more a way of life as opposed to just undertaking an at home project. The team at ReUse Action are skilled experts in a variety of areas when it comes to refurbishing and recycling and are quick to lend a helping hand when needed.

“It’s not too hard. I mean, some of our customers are quite skilled at it and do some amazing things with the materials- much of it is pretty straight forward. We are fairly well-known for guiding people in how to do various things like work safely with old painted materials- we want to make sure that people work safely of course.”

If you’re stuck and not sure what actions to take next, visit the store for inspiration and a plethora of advice to help you through the process. Sometimes, all you need is a little help from your friends, and if the team at ReUse Action isn’t your friend yet, they sure will be when you leave!

Visit their website at https://www.reuseaction.com for more information.

980 Northampton Street, Buffalo NY 14211 | 716-894-3366
Website | Facebook | Instagram


A V Iglesias Upholstery

I get it- the antique furniture in your grandparents’ attic is probably not the best fit for your contemporary styled new apartment or home; but that doesn’t have to mean that it’s a worthless piece of furniture. Really, it’s nothing a little styling can’t fix with help from our friends at A V Iglesias Upholstery.

It’s location at 434 Amherst Street has been a gem of Blackrock for more than 25 years, and has never ceased to serve the people of Buffalo with a whole heart of love. Lourdes T Iglesias, the current owner, inherited this store from her brother Alfonso, who was a great master upholster. After his passing just two years ago, it was clear that the family’s goal would be to continue the legacy that Alfonso left for them: the binding thread of upholstery. While Lourdes owns the store, her sister, Lisa manages and runs the day-to-day operations alongside the upholsterer Robin and the furniture stripper Ricardo.

This trade is one that may be becoming obsolete, but the team at A V Iglesias has been fortunate enough to continue through that pandemic and come out on the other side busier than ever,

“It’s a beautiful trade. We’re blessed, we really are. We love our clients,” says Lourdes.

She imparted a bit of wisdom on me and shared just how valuable old pieces of furniture are, even if you don’t know it!

“I get chills just thinking about it because when you’ve had something in your home for so long, and maybe the fabric is worn, it’s so great to be able to change up the fabric, but still keep your solid furniture. It’s history. We’ve had a couple of customers come in with, furniture that they’ve had in their family for over a hundred years! I think the beauty with our shop is that we do each piece with love- we know how important it is to that other person.”

This place is one that will have your furniture looking like new and have you leaving feeling just like family!

To find out more information or book an appointment, call the store at (716) 447-9842

Consider the benefits of upcycling that old furniture before hopping into an online shopping frenzy, you may be surprised just what creative capabilities you have. Who knows, maybe you will even have fun in the process!

434 Amherst St., Buffalo, NY 14207 | 716-447-9842
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For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to the Project Best Life newsletter.


Project Best Life

In tough times, our efforts to maintain fitness, healthy nutrition, and personal wellness can fall by the wayside as we direct all our energy into navigating our individual storm. Yet, in the face of what’s happening in the world around us, it is essential to make space for self-care and experiences that fortify our physical and mental wellbeing.

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Written and Hosted by Liberty Darr
Photography and Editing by Vin Berbano
Produced by Jessica Marinelli

Written by Liberty Darr

Liberty Darr

I am a Buffalo State student studying journalism. I love writing, art, and meeting new people. When I’m not at school or work I enjoy reading/writing poetry and watching documentaries. My favorite dynamic duo is investigative journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. I’ve been a resident of Buffalo for quite some time and I still fall in love with something new about this city everyday.

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