Refurbishing the Future


9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production


Flipboard have refurbished old timber pallets and combined them with magazines in order to create and build the chairs used in their café.


Aden Thompson

Aden Thompson


Monash University

Monash University


Gitanjali Bedi

Gitanjali Bedi


It is an increasingly common practice to recycle and reuse old timber to create new products and applications. The idea is to turn waste timber into usable products. This process has been undertaken by Flipboard to create furniture for their stores. Specifically, Flipboard have sourced old wooden pallets, and old magazines and have used them to build the chairs that are used in their café. The chairs not only look great, but are cost efficient and environmentally friendly. Timber is a very diverse raw material demonstrated by the wide variety of second life products it helps to create, such as the chairs in Flipboard café.

Refurbishing the Future


Overtime, deforestation has led to the loss of 40% of Australia’s forests, where 5000 square km’s of bushland is cleared annually. The flow on effects of this are that it creates problems with biodiversity, climate change and even soil fertility (Bradshaw, 2012). Paul, and Flipboard, have noticed this trend themselves, and so have actively sought out a more sustainable timber source for their furniture. Reusing and recycling old timber is the most eco friendly source of timber and is becoming increasingly popular with local Australian businesses like Flipboard.

Overall impact

Let’s be honest. A small café using recycled timber for their furniture is not going to have a major impact on the environment in the grand scheme of things. Flipboard knows it, I know it, and I am sure you know it too. However, Flipboard are not the first organisation to re-use timber and hopefully they are not the last. Paul recognises that his organisation alone is not going to save the environment. Nonetheless, he is a strong believer that every bit helps, and if enough organisations get on board significant change can be made.

Business benefit

The key benefit of the refurbished furniture for Flipboard is that it significantly improves their brand image. In today's world, consumers are placing increased pressures on organisations to monitor and reduce their impact on the environment. This trend is even more significant to Flipboard as their target market in young adults and university students are typically the type of people who hold these beliefs. “One of the first things noticed by customers that come into the café is the chairs,” Paul said in our interview. “We get a lot of compliments about them,” he went on to mention. Flipboard’s customers have taken notice of their efforts to re-use and recycle old timber and turn it into a vibrant creative new chair. This can only benefit the organisations image and reputation.

A second benefit of reusing recycled timber to create furniture is that it saves the organisation money on going out and purchasing furniture from a store. Flipboard is likely to have saved a few hundred dollars, which may not seem like much, but to a small business owner can be quite significant.

Social and environmental benefit

Recycling and re-using old timber has become popular due to the environmentally friendly nature of the tasks. A key benefit for the environment of re-using old timber is that demand for new timber will fall and will mean less trees need to be cut down. Cutting down less trees and lowering our rate of deforestation will improve our levels of biodiversity, our climate, and the quality of our soil, positively effecting Australia’s natural environment as a whole.

Furthermore, pressing global issues of deforestation and climate change are prompting both Australian timber suppliers and consumers like Flipboard to look for more sustainable timber sources. Additionally, the increasing social trend of reusing old timber in construction has been important in raising both industry and consumer awareness about deforestation and even promotes timber mills to adopt practices that are more environmentally friendly.


Paul Hamilton, Manager

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Melbourne, Victoria, AU

Business Website:

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Flipboard is a small café located in the heart of Monash Universities Caulfield campus. Flipboard employs local people and uses local suppliers to serve their local community. Paul Hamilton, head manager of the café, states that the environmental impact of the cafe is at the “forefront” of his mind, and so, continuously looks for new ways to reduce their ecological footprint.

Currently, Flipboard can be seen to be helping achieve goals 9, 11, and 12 of the United Nations Global Sustainable Development goals (United Nations, 2014). Flipboard helps to achieve goal 12 (responsible production and consumption) by serving their coffee to customers in cups that are biodegradable and compostable. Moreover, Flipboard help to achieve goals 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) through their refurbishing efforts.