When I shop for a piece of furniture, I often think of the intended use, how it will fit with the other pieces in the respective room and cost. One other factor of importance is how long I intend to use the piece; whether it is a lifelong treasure that will be passed down from generation to generation or it will have a momentary existence in my home.
Anyone with children know that the trend and likes of our miniature replicas can be as fleeting as boy bands. I have always tried to allow my children to have a say in their room décor; this has caused multiple transitions as color choice and designs favored so quickly change. With this in mind, I had purchased items that wouldn’t break the bank; ones that I could discard without a thought as quickly as Minnie Mouse is replaced with Barbie. I am not alone. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 9 million tons of furniture are tossed out every year; equating to approximately 5% of items brought to the landfill. Sure, 5% doesn’t seem like a large number, but unlike the food we eat and many of the other biodegradable items we cart away, these items take a significant time to breakdown and some never will. In part, the 5% compounds and- quantitively- becomes a large portion of waste.
One way to avoid being a part of the “fast food” epidemic is to purchase good furniture that you can change up as needed. Solid wood pieces that can last generations are a great option. Daughter no longer likes pink? Paint it over with a new color or chalk paint. Want to move it into a common room but the hearts and stars will clash with the décor? Sand it down and make it a solid piece. Sometimes simply changing out the knobs and handles on the doors and draws of pieces can give it a whole new identity.
Yes- we all felt the delay during the pandemic….. who can forget the images of the cargo ships in the Pacific waiting in the vast ocean for a chance to unload? Sometimes we are tempted to purchase the “fast food” pieces because they are, well, fast. Order on Amazon and it will be nicely waiting on your front porch by the next day. Keep in mind many of these pieces will just as quickly be on your porch waiting for the garbage truck to cart it away. There are many different vendors with ready-to-ship pieces at higher quality or in stock at their showrooms. For instance, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen and Crate and Barrel are all known for their superior quality with quick shipping turnaround. Now- I am not saying that cost always correlates with quality; it is important to look at the pieces to ensure they fit the high standard.
Another option to avoid the “fast food” trap is to buy locally; particularly in our modern day where anyone can set up a store website, you can find so many craftsmen (and craftswomen) creating amazing, unique well built pieces to enhance your living space. More so, you can get the one-of-a-kind custom pieces that fit your style (and space/needs).
Two other options that you can find online are renting and purchasing used. With the growing concern around sustainability, both are formidable options. If you like to be up to date with the current trend or your style preferences change with each season, renting can be a great route. With a business model of purchasing higher end, expensive, high quality items and renting them for a period of time, it can be a very profitable business. With the rise of Rent the Runway to the traditional car leases, renting isn’t something Americans shy from. Many often the option of rent to buy; allowing you to try an item, risk free, before making the ultimate commitment. This is also a great option if you have a short term lease or a job assignment in a location that trekking your current furniture isn’t feasible. Purchasing used can also be a great alternative. Finding well made (and maintained) pieces that look new can give your home a new look.
Whatever route you go to avoid “fast furniture” will help you steer clear of furniture that typically do not last. If you need assistance creating a lasting atmosphere, we are always available to assist!
Research cited: ‘Fast Furniture’ Is Cheap. And Americans Are Throwing It in the Trash. The New York Times