A space-saving storage rack made from a metal bed frame by Akil Cyrus.

While many people in T&T have picked up gardening, farming, cooking and new hobbies during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures in self-quarantine at home, Akil Cyrus, a bank operations analyst, decided to repurpose, recycle or upcycle discarded items into useful items for the home.

Using the three Rs of the environment—reduce, reuse, recycle, the Maraval resident has, for example, repurposed an old, rusted Singer sewing machine base into a table and upcycled a metal bed frame into a space-saving storage rack.

Speaking to Guardian Media about his project, Cyrus said, “We’ve been working on these ‘lockdown’ projects for a while. The rusted Singer sewing machine base was in my mother-in-law’s yard collecting dust and rust. My wife June saw it and said we could do something with it.

“The treadle operated or foot-powered sewing machine was working when I cleaned it up and the wood slice was sourced from a felled cypress tree in the Queen’s Park Savannah. We took two pieces of wood from the Savannah, my wife organised with a friend who had a chainsaw, we went the first time to identify the ideal piece of wood we wanted, when we returned it was gone but we got another piece.”

He said the project took a little longer than expected as they had to go to a woodworker in San Juan because they didn’t have the proper tools and experience, plus the drying and finishing period also took some time.

Cyrus said the metal bed frame which he turned into a space-saving storage rack belonged to his stepson before he migrated to study in the US. He said he didn’t want to throw it out and he eventually decided to make a storage unit out of it.

Cyrus said he took his concept and design to his neighbour, Junior Duncan, a welder, from Morvant, where Cyrus grew up, to fashion the rack.

He said during the COVID-19 crisis, when people had to save their money for necessities such as food, medicine and household articles, and with many people losing their jobs, recycling and upcycling were ways to save that money and could be an alternate source of income.

He said the basic material was either free or next to nothing, as it mostly requires some sweat and labour. He said there may be minor expenditure such as glue, sandpaper and spray paint but there is the self-satisfaction of creating something at the end.

Cyrus, who shied away from taking a photo of himself, said there were always opportunities in trying times like this and people just had to identify them and work with it. He said after he posted his projects on Facebook many people saw it and expressed interest and complimented him on his creations, so he now wants to do another table.