In our quest for affordable and trendy home decor, we often overlook the true cost of our choices. The rise of 'fast furniture'—cheap, readily available, and ultimately disposable pieces—has a profound impact on our environment, much like its cousin, fast fashion. However, unlike clothing that might biodegrade within a few months to a year, furniture takes much longer. This leads to an accumulation of non-degradable waste that ends up in landfills or, worse, our oceans.
No studies were conducted in Canada but according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans discarded over 12 million tons of furniture in 2018, up from 2.2 million tons in 1960. Shockingly, over 80% of this ended up in landfill1. But that's not all. The carbon emissions from manufacturing and shipping these items contribute significantly to the climate crisis. Let's dive deeper into the hidden costs of fast furniture and explore how we can make more sustainable choices for our homes.
The Dark Side of Fast Furniture: A Web of Environmental Hazards
To maintain low price points, manufacturers of affordable furniture often use cheaper, yet less robust materials. These materials are not only more susceptible to damage, but also harder to recycle1. The result? Furniture that isn't designed for longevity or recyclability is much more likely to end up in landfill.
When we think about the lifespan of a piece of furniture, we must consider more than just how long it will physically last. New furniture releases the highest concentration of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the first year of its life.
Deforestation: The Fallen Green Giants
Fast furniture's need for cheap raw materials often leads to the destruction of forests. This rampant deforestation contributes to the loss of wildlife habitat, reduction of carbon sinks, and increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, contributing to global warming.
Carbon and Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Invisible Culprits
The manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of fast furniture release a considerable amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases trap heat, contributing significantly to the warming of our planet.
Water Depletion: The Unsustainable Thirst
Fast furniture manufacturing processes consume substantial amounts of water. With water scarcity being a global concern, such unsustainable consumption is an alarming issue.
Landfill Waste and Use of Non-renewable Materials: An Inconvenient Waste
Fast furniture’s short lifespan, coupled with the use of non-renewable materials, leads to ever-growing waste pile-ups in landfills. The decomposing furniture can leach harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater, leading to environmental and health issues.
How We Champions Sustainable Furniture Production
As a custom wood furniture manufacturer, we took the responsibility to disrupt the cycle of fast furniture. We craft furniture pieces designed to last, using materials sourced responsibly, and adopting sustainable processes from start to finish.
Ref-orest : A Pledge to Planet Earth
At ref., we believe that building sustainably goes beyond just the materials used in our products. To that end, we have initiated the ref-orest program, a conscious step towards replenishing the resources we utilize.Through this program, we pledge to plant a tree for every piece of furniture sold. We partner with the non-profit One Tree Planted to carry out this initiative. This effort not only aids in restoring our forests but also creates a positive impact on local communities, providing them with a sustainable source of income. Our ref-orest program symbolizes our deep-seated commitment to the environment.
Repair, Reuse, Recycle: A Circular Life Cycle
We advocates for a circular life cycle for our furniture. We design our pieces to be easily repairable, promoting longer usage and reducing the need for replacements.
Timeless Designs: Beyond Trends
We focus on creating timeless designs that go beyond transient trends. This philosophy allows our pieces to stay relevant and desirable, reducing the urge to replace them frequently.
Choosing ref. : A Step Towards Sustainable Living
Making a switch to sustainable options like ref. is not just about buying furniture. It's about making a conscious choice for a healthier planet. Every furniture piece you purchase from us is not just a testament to sustainable crafting but also contributes directly to global reforestation efforts. You get the assurance of ethical crafting, sustainable materials, and a durable, timeless design that's worth cherishing. It's our way of ensuring that our love for crafting beautiful furniture pieces does not come at the cost of our planet.