A savvy student has furnished her entire house for free, saving herself and her five housemates thousands of pounds in the process.
Eva Kupčová, 20, who is studying computer science at the University of Glasgow, combined two of her top priorities - saving money and protecting the environment - by repurposing other people's cast-offs to kit out every part of the house where she rents a room.
After moving into the house share in September 2020, the student kick-started her money-saving plan by scouring giveaway apps to pick up everything from armchairs to houseplants.
Sourcing finds via Gumtree, Olio and Facebook Marketplace, where people advertise unwanted items for nothing to people willing to collect them, Kupčová estimates she has saved her household at least £2,000.
“I was inspired by a documentary I watched on sustainability and have not looked back," she explains.
“By furnishing our house with things other people want to throw away, we are saving money and helping to save the planet, too.
“I particularly like using Olio, which specialises in furniture and food. It’s great. I have got furniture worth around £1,500 through Olio.”
Aside from all purchasing new mattresses, at a cost of £100 each, the group estimate they have only spent a maximum of £50 on extras, with all the main furniture and many decorative items being picked up for nothing.
Having spent her first year in a furnished dorm, Kupčová was horrified to realise how much it was going to cost to kit out her new room in the house share where she planned to spend her second year.
Watch: Life hackers turn second-hand furniture into first-rate pieces.
“The house we are renting isn’t furnished, so we went to IKEA first, but it was just too expensive on a student budget," she says.
“So, I started looking at all the websites that advertised unwanted items going free.
“We found some amazing things, and managed to get all the basics we needed within a month.
“We have everything we need and plenty of extras now, but I still keep checking the websites, as if I see something I like, I can upgrade to it and give the item it’s replacing away.”
After setting out on her repurposing journey Kupčová managed to pick up everything from chests of drawers, clothing rails, floor lamps, photo frames, a laundry hamper, a dining table, chairs and a book case, to a sofa and armchairs all for nothing.
Soft furnishings, extension leads, alarm clocks, bins, candles, a mixer, a food blender and a juicer have also been amongst her loot.
She was even able to bag the household some decorative fairylights, kitchen equipment and a full length mirror.
“I estimate that I’ve had at least £2,000 of free furniture, kitchenware, general homeware and soft furnishings,” she adds.
Kupčová says her favourite find is an IKEA armchair that would have cost £250 new.
“But I also got a bike worth £200 from Olio. I had to spend £20 on repairs, but it was worth it,” she adds.
As well as furniture and home furnishings, Kupčová also started collecting free plants during the March lockdown.
“Houseplants cost a lot. Nice ones are upwards of £8," she explains. "But I got addicted to finding them free.
“I reckon I’ve got about 50 for nothing, so I must have saved at least £500.
“I’ve got so many now, it might be tricky if I go on vacation but, hopefully, they will survive!"
Bargain hunting has become such a way of life for the student, she says it's the first topic of conversation when she meets someone new.
"One of the first things I talk about is what apps they’ve got and the ones they should try," she adds.
With her house fully furnished, Kupčová is already looking for further ways to continue her freecycling lifestyle.
“The next big thing for me will be Christmas. We’ve managed to find a Christmas tree and festive decorations free already.”
Additional reporting PA Real Life.