Yorkshire’s paint rescuers: Meet the Leeds based team transforming preloved paint to help save the planet
The innovative organisation rescues paint and mixes it to fit a desired colour chart.
Kate Morree, 54, and Cat Hyde, 43, have been recycling and reusing paint for the past 20 years, helping to save over four million litres of paint by diverting it from landfill.
Co-founder Cat said: “A lot of people think you get half cans but we blend it.
“People think you’ll end up with mucky browns and peachy colours - but we can make Farrow and ball colours as well as Dulux ones. It’s not the bland colours and scraps which people think it will be.”
Rather than paying £25-£50 per two and a half litres, you can buy this paint instead for just £11.
Kate and Cat set up Seagulls as a social enterprise in 2004 after working together across their kitchen table for “a couple of years.”
Cat said: “There was a lack of recycling awareness in Leeds. We had concerns about the environment and social justice and we wanted to create jobs for ourselves and others.
“We could see a need for people to understand recycling and reuse.
“We wanted to find a material to recycle or reuse to offer opportunities for employment
“We spent a couple years around Kate’s kitchen table and talking to people about what was needed.”
The pair spoke to the council waste department and secured a grant to collect paint from a Leeds waste site from 2005.
Mother-of-one Cat said: “It would have generated 11.48 million of carbon if the paint had gone to landfill.
“To offset this you would have had to plant 6.8 million trees.
“In August 2022, we diverted 24,107 litres of paint from landfill alone which equates to planting short of 40,982 trees.”
Seagulls collect paint from council waste sites and have paint banks at eight sites.
The award-winning social enterprise promotes the reuse and repurposing of unwanted materials and sustainable living solutions whilst providing volunteering, training and job opportunities for marginalised people.
They offer a range of workshops and courses from mosaic to decorating, silversmithing to upcycling.
Cat said: “We have a mosaic studio and a well equipped multi functional workshop space as well as three decorating pods that simulate real rooms.
There’s a national theory that people have on average 17 tins of leftover paint in their homes, when it could be recycled and reused.
Seagulls fund a community arts programme working with people to produce mosaics for walls “so people feel pride and purpose in community,” said Cat.
Seagulls also runs creative workshops and upcycling and decorating workshops.
Cat added: “Any profit goes back into our volunteer programme.”
Over the past year Seagulls has gone viral on social media leading to more customers discovering them through social media as well as winning the Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year at the Social Enterprise Yorkshire & Humber Awards.