Many of us find our guilty pleasure in shopping sprees. It could either be clothes, accessories, bags, or shoes. However, an emphasis was placed on environmental issues the past few years, and younger generations are catching up to the problems and educating themselves. We are becoming more aware that over-indulging is unsustainable! Educating themselves includes finding more sustainable alternatives to your guilty pleasures, such as thrifting (amongst many other things!).
If you’ve been up-to-date with our blog posts, you will notice that we’ve discussed a lot about the fashion industry, specifically regarding the waste it produces and fast fashion. However, if you haven’t caught up with those articles, you can read them here and here!
But, let’s give you a quick recap.
We have uncovered the fashion industry of its misconduct. Many of these issues are linked to a specific sector in this industry: fast fashion. This industry was for its non-environmentally friendly waste, non-ethical work facility, and wages, as well as their performative activism. A quick example of these issues includes the Boohoo Leicester sweatshop news and the Instagram text post as a ‘contribution’ to the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, there is still another factor in our daily lives and a massive aspect of our home life that we tend to forget. Our furniture.
Yes, it may seem shocking to think that furniture can be environmentally damaging. But, if you give it a minute to think about it, furniture is a silent killer that adds to our carbon footprints.
Remember when you moved out of your parents’ house to your new apartment, you were waiting for your ordered furniture to come, and during that span of being furniture-less, you decide to get a cheap plastic set of chairs and tables. But what happens when your actual furniture arrives? Did you throw it away? Did you keep them in the storage room until you can’t use them anymore and then threw them away?
That’s precisely how furniture is adding its weight into our landfills. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports an accumulation of furniture waste mounting up to 12.1 million tons in 2018. From the 12.1 million tons, 9.7 million tons were disposed of to the landfills. This number has been consistent since 2015 where it reached over 9 million tons of furniture waste a year.
Imagine all that waste contributing to your carbon footprint. The accumulated weight of all the waste will release methane and spike the dangerously increasing rate of carbon emissions.
We also need to remember that furniture is not only made from one material. It is a collaboration of different materials. EPA reports that wood was the largest material, followed by ferrous metals, plastics, glass, textiles, and other materials, including synthetic fabrics. All these materials take hundreds of years to biodegrade, and some may not degrade at all!
We haven’t taken into account the other furnish!
Who here loves looking at rugs and carpets? Honestly, who can resist them? They’re soft,
keep your feet warm during winter days, and they’re just a fun addition to your living room. Carpets can be the statement piece to any setting, or they can just add a pop of color for a neutral space. Even your pets love them!
But unfortunately, carpets and rugs contributed at least 3 million tons of waste in 2018. This number is 1.2% of the total generation, which means we throw away 1 out of 100 carpets made annually. This ratio may not seem much, but with a population of over 300 million people, the numbers add up. Furthermore, these numbers are for the United States alone!
Plus, just like furniture, carpets and rugs are primarily made of synthetic materials—and we all know the impact of synthetic materials on the environment. It’s dreadful. Creating the material itself is very harmful to our environment (you can read more about it here), and we’re driving that damage further by filling our landfills with it.
Honestly, all these numbers would not accumulate to such an extent if we recycle most of the furniture. Yes, we can recycle furniture! If we reclaim some of the materials from our furniture, can you imagine the amount of waste we can save annually?
We all just need a small sign and a little push to become more and more sustainable for our future, so take this article as your sign to start new! Look around your house and start being more aware of all the materials that are used to furnish your home and how you can create a more sustainable option for your future!
It's never too late to start. So let’s begin nurturing our Earth from today.