Is fast furniture the new fast fashion thing?
Fast fashion or fast food are certainly two terms you came across already, but have you heard of the term fast furniture? It is a problem worth discussing seeing the impact fast furniture has on our environment. Here’s what fast furniture is, why it’s wasteful, and how to switch your furniture shopping habits to benefit the planet.
What is Fast Furniture exactly?
The current pattern of consumption – more, faster, cheaper is unsustainable, and it is not a secret. In recent years, online thrift stores and farm-to-table restaurants have made shopping sustainably cool. Why hasn’t this trend spread to furniture?
Many of us resort to one-click wonders to fill our interiors with what appears to be the cheapest and the easiest option because as exciting as moving into a new apartment can be, it can also be stressful. There are more insidious side effects than overwhelming options, unreliable deliveries, and painstaking assembly. What we save out of pocket comes at a significant cost to the environment.
There are a few conscious choices you can make for your home.
Save the trees
600 tons of wood particleboard is gobbled up each day, creating the most popular bookcase on the planet. Often made from leftover wood scraps, particleboard is sometimes considered a green material. Seeing as the scraps need to be broken down, dried, mixed with chemical adhesive, heated, and re-pressed into usable panels, more energy is required to manufacture it.
Furniture is one of the fastest-growing landfill categories; sometimes it doesn’t even make it to landfills, instead, it ends up as litter on the sidewalk.
In theory, recycling is great, but the mix of materials and chemicals that compromise each item of furniture makes it nearly impossible to process in a recycling facility. Particleboard – a material commonly found in cheaper furniture – isn’t recyclable or biodegradable because of its chemical resin and plastic laminate.
Most of the furniture currently cluttering the dumps was made within the last 10 to 15 years, according to a sustainability expert. Fast furniture can be more challenging to repair because of its materials, which is a part of the problem.
Shopping locally can increase your odds of something being made with a more transparent and thoughtful production process, rather than something shipped from overseas where the emphasis is put on producing goods as cheaply as possible.
Change our cultural mindset
With the global e-commerce boom, an unprecedented world of stuff is at our fingertips, and the pace of production, transportation, and tossing of goods doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
The real question here is how do we stop the cycle and become more conscious furniture shoppers?
You can consider it the new circular economy. Furniture subscription does wonders if you don’t want to leave a heavy carbon furniture print or don’t want to commit to everlasting furniture. Some companies offer buy-back programs; others, like many bed companies, will collect and break down your furniture. Even putting the item for free on the Facebook marketplace will likely get it out of your home quickly.
Shop for furniture sustainably
Buy for quality and durability; that way the overall waste footprint will be reduced. To consider where to invest and how to ensure quality, rely on certifications and labels like these.
Turn to non-profit organizations or secondhand stores if you are looking to hand off your furniture. When you are looking for new furniture, it’s good practice to look for a way to ethically offload your old pieces. One fewer item sent to landfill is one fewer item that needs to be produced and sold through retail.
Give timeless pieces even more airtime – shop vintage.
Timeworn pieces can add flair and personality to your interior while saving you yet another wasteful trip to the fast furniture store. Your sofa will sit a lot more comfortable knowing it’s a greener choice for the planet. If you purchase a piece that should have longevity, it’s important to do regular maintenance so that it can really go the distance. Tightening up the bolts and cleaning the textile pieces, are just two ways to increase the lifespan of your furniture.