Emmaus Europe

Emmaus Ghlin, a solidarity carpentry initiative: Holy-Wood

This initiative began in the Belgian community when people decided to look for ways to bring added value to wood that they couldn’t sell in the shop. The Holy-Wood project is aimed at providing a second life for scrap wood as well as offering a local, ethical and solidarity-focused alternative to our customers.

Holy-Wood collects, sorts and reworks unique pieces or small sets of furniture whilst using environmentally-friendly products (oils and natural paints). The initiative focuses on creating designer furniture and both a shop and a carpentry workshop have been opened in order to share this passion for wood with others.

A local project and a win-win

The Holy-Wood partnership was launched due to a nagging issue that bothered certain members of the Emmaus group. Despite the increasing quality of the donations received in Ghlin, a lot of wooden products had to be thrown away. The wood category represented 30 tons of waste for Emmaus Ghlin in 2017 and disposing of these waste products came at a cost for the group. Thus the idea of providing added value to this wood was born. This initiative also came about because the community cares about the impact it has on the environment.

Within the Emmaus Ghlin group no-one had experience  in repairing or transforming furniture unlike some of the other Emmaus communities. The group thus had to look for another solution to bring added value to these products as they already did for clothing, books and electrical appliances…

A project which has meaning and shared values

Inspired by a former Emmaus volunteer, the Holy-Wood initiative was thus launched as an association by founding members who are local stakeholders: the circular economy site Ecores, Atelier d’Anya, Juhl carpentry, the OUT collective (University of Mons) and Les petits ateliers du faire.

As part of the partnership with Holy-Wood, Emmaus Ghlin has made a workshop available for the joiners within the Emmaus community. A hangar was built and furnished to create a comfortable working environment for the team. The two goals of the initiative have thus been met: reducing waste whilst creating a sustainable crafts activity with a community focus.

An environmentally-friendly and socially-committed project

The group was able to launch the project thanks to financial support received from the Belgian National Lottery Fund. Holy-Wood won a call for tender for sustainable development projects launched by the Lottery Fund, an organisation which depends on the Belgian government. Holy-Wood was selected as a project which tries to use wooden materials to boost environmental, economic and human value as well as adopting a local, circular and solidarity-based approach.

Holy-Wood won the Prix Horizons 2021, a sustainable development prize which was based on 4 criteria: social, environmental and economic aspects as well as citizens’ involvement in the initiatives. The Public’s Prize also went to Holy-Wood following an online poll. This small-scale project looks set to have a promising future!

For more information head over to:

Belgium Circular economy / The environment  News

© Emmaus Ghlin