Adding colour to our lives

Melanie Strickland paints a picture of a charity at the heart of its community

The Paint Place

Melanie Strickland (right) with Forest Recycling Project executive director Fitzroy Andrew (left) outside The Paint Place in Bakers Arms

Until recently I didn’t know Forest Recycling Project (FRP) existed, but now I think every community should have a place like this.

It enables people to take practical steps to reduce their carbon footprint, and to facilitate new local friendships and connections. Who would have thought a paint shop could become such a thriving community hub?

What brought me to FRP originally was my passion for action on climate change. FRP is a small charity with environmental aims in Waltham Forest. It does many things including organising ‘give or take’ events and supporting environmental initiatives such as Open Green Homes weekend held in June, but the main thing that it does is sell low-cost, previously used and reclaimed, paint to the community. Some paint is also provided for free to eligible community groups and council or housing association tenants.

FRP performs an important environmental and social function – paint contains chemicals which are extremely bad for the environment, especially when the paint ends up in landfill or in the water. I was astonished to discover that in the UK only one percent of paint is donated for reuse, while almost half is incinerated, and nearly a third ends up in landfill. Anything we can do to reuse paint and avoid paint being wasted will benefit the environment.

FRP’s customer base is diverse – it includes council and housing tenants, private householders, artists, community groups seeking to brighten up their spaces, schools, and many more. Paint sold through FRP is a fraction of the price of new paint. This means it’s accessible to a much broader range of people, enabling those on lower incomes to redecorate their living spaces.

The paint sold comes from reuse and recycling centres, and from companies across London because FRP ais unable to take in paint directly from people. The paint is checked and remixed before being labelled up.

The Paint Place

Melanie Strickland shows off the range of paint available at The Paint Place in Bakers Arms

Almost every type of paint imaginable is available from FRP, but the biggest seller is a white emulsion and water-based paint, suitable for indoor spaces. While FRP stock many different types of colours, people sometimes want a very specific shade which is not always easy to accommodate, so prepare to be flexible. Aside from this, you’ll find the shop to be an extremely valuable resource for all your painting and decorating needs.

The charity has a small staff and also relies on volunteers to make the project a success. It’s a labour-intensive process to move, mix, and label the tins. It’s not just paint that is sold at FRP either – they also sell a range of upcycled furniture and art from recycled materials from local makers and artists. But right now FRP has a huge surplus of paint, so please do tell your friends about it and come and visit!

FRP is open Monday-Friday 10am-4pm at Unit 7, The Sidings, Leytonstone, and also from its shop The Paint Place, 2c Bakers Avenue, Walthamstow, Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm