When you think of recycling, you probably picture placing your aluminum cans and glass bottles in a friendly blue recycling bin so they can be used again or repurposed. But it’s important to include larger items—such as furniture—in the virtuous circle of recycling. By avoiding “fast furniture” and instead of buying quality furniture pieces that last, you can help to significantly eliminate waste and emissions, while simultaneously creating a furnished space that even your trendiest friends will admire.
What is “fast furniture”?
The term “fast furniture,” similar to “fast fashion,” refers to furniture companies that produce a wide variety of different furniture styles quickly and cheaply. Fast furniture is a relatively recent phenomenon resulting from the globalization of the labor market, as countries with lower-paid workers can now manufacture furniture for a fraction of the cost it would take for furniture to be made locally. The fast furniture facts show that those lower prices come with a laundry list of negative impacts, both for the environment, and society as a whole.
Some furniture manufacturers now use lower-quality materials to keep prices low. As a result, many furniture pieces only last a quarter of the time their traditionally made counterparts would. For example, a quality fabric sofa should last at least 15 years, while cheap furniture statistics show that a quality leather sofa can last three times as long.
Furniture waste statistics show that shorter furniture lifespans have caused a marked spike in the amount of furniture waste that goes into landfills each year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s furniture waste statistics, approximately 2 million pounds of furniture waste ended up in landfills in 1960 compared to 10 million pounds of furniture dumped in a landfill in 2018.
In addition to a negative impact on the environment, fast furniture can be a huge strain on your budget over time. Think about it this way: when you purchase inexpensive, cheaply-made furniture, you’ll end up replacing it sooner than if you would have simply bought a quality piece in the first place. For furniture that’s more likely to get daily wear and tear — such as your living room sofa and dining room table — search for durable, quality-made furniture that will last longer so you aren’t paying for a new, cheaply made one again and again and again.
How to avoid “fast furniture”
It’s easy to give in to the convenience of “fast furniture,” but by exploring more sustainable home design solutions, you can have a powerful impact on the health of both the environment and society as a whole.
The following are a few ways you can start reducing waste at home and avoid being part of the “fast furniture” story:
1. Shop locally
Whether for your home or workplace, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing furniture that’s made with higher quality materials that are built to last as well as stocked closer to the location of your home or office. If your furniture only needs to travel a few hundred miles rather than many thousand, much less fuel is required to transport those goods resulting in lower carbon emissions.
2. Rent if moving often
Many consumers choose “fast furniture” because of their lifestyle or temporary needs, only to end up dumping furniture in a landfill after just a short time period. If you’re planning to temporarily relocate to a new city for a job, go to university in a town far from home, or set up a temporary workplace for your organization, it might seem easier to buy your furniture where you’ll live or set up your office from instead of moving more expensive, high-quality pieces with you. By renting furniture, you can experience the same convenience, without waste.
3. Shop for quality, long-lasting items
One of the best things you can do for Mother Earth this year is to buy or rent quality. At CORT Furniture Outlet, you’ll find gently used furniture that’s made with longevity in mind. In fact, prior to arriving at CORT Furniture Outlet, our furniture is rented and re-rented several times through CORT Furniture Rental services. Our pieces are manufactured to a higher standard compared to most furniture to withstand several leasing cycles. And after the furniture has completed its rental lifecycle, it’s moved to the Outlet to be sold rather than thrown into a landfill.
The “circle of life” our furniture undergoes saves 368,862 tons of CO2 annually versus competitors who sell furniture new. Do your part to end the devastating effects of “fast furniture” by investing in durable, quality-made, beautiful furniture that you’ll enjoy for years to come. Make sure that this year’s furniture doesn’t end up in next year’s landfill.