Repurpose, Refurbish, and Recycle: Keeping Furniture Waste out of Landfills

As designers, one of the main goals is to be as eco-friendly and environmentally responsible as possible. Though it does create a fairly significant challenge, especially in this field, we recently decided to make it part of our mission to make more sustainable choices and incorporate products and materials from more companies that pride themselves on being environmentally concious and eco-friendly.

That being said, we recently read a fact that completely blew our minds and realized that it was something we wanted to bring attention to. Prepare to be shocked:

9.7 million tons of furniture is dumped in U.S. landfills every year. 

EVERY. YEAR. !! Remember that a ton is 2000 pounds, multiply that by 9.7 MILLION, and what you get is a number with a lot of zeros that most people can’t even fathom.

9.7 million looks like 9700000. Times that by 2000 and it looks like 19,400,000,000 also known as nineteen billion four hundred million POUNDS OF FURNITURE WASTE. This is an insane number when you think of it as just one category of something that’s sitting in landfills.

Furniture is the number one least recycled item in a household, majorly due to the cheap & fast industry in which furniture is not meant to last. While this is nothing we can single-handedly solve on our own, every little bit helps in raising awareness of this fact so we’ve come up with a few ways to alleviate furniture waste as much as possible.

1. Donate. Before dumping your old furniture on the side of the road, consider whether or not it is still in good enough condition to be donated. Charities, non-profits, Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army, Goodwill, and even animal shelters will gladly accept most furniture donations for a second use. Do some research to find what type of donation facility is best suited for the furniture you’re trying to get rid of!

2. Repurpose. Scroll through Pinterest for a bit of inspiration to see if it’s something that can be turned into a DIY project. A lot of furniture can be given new life by adding a fresh coat of paint or reupholstering. Or, maybe it’s something that can serve a new use all together!

dresser vanity

An old dresser that was transformed into a bathroom vanity. https://www.instagram.com/p/BqNDcD-hYA_/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=104xt9knnqz1i

39b8e69955cb848f2c52adbbb97b74d4

The style of this hutch was completely changed with a crisp clean paint job. Original source unknown.

veneer removal

A dresser that was completely transformed just by removing the veneer from the outside. https://www.dododsondesigns.com/removing-veneer-wood-dresser/

updated dresser

A dresser that was given a makeover just with a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. https://designs.generalfinishes.com/posts/coastal-blue-and-antique-walnut-dresser#slideshow-0

3. Measure twice, buy once. When purchasing new furniture, be 100% sure that it will fit in your space to eliminate wasting packaging for returns back and forth. This also eliminates the waste & creation of unnecessary furniture if you’re sure that it will work.

4. Curbside recycling programs. If you do a little research, you may be able to find a curbside program near your home. Just make sure that they’re actually recycling the furniture that you leave out, not just picking up and taking it straight to a landfill.

5. Sell online. There are plenty of online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist to sell furniture on if it still has some life left in it. Or, you could do it the old fashioned way and have a yard sale. Gives the furniture a second chance and gives you some money back!

6. Ask around. Someone always knows someone who has a a freshman starting in college or a brand new apartment somewhere that would gladly accept some mismatched & miscellaneous hand-me-down furniture pieces.

7. Invest. We know that good furniture is expensive and definitely adds up quickly, but if you invest in pieces that are crafted with quality and built to last, they will be able to travel with you through multiple moves and live on for generations down the road. Here are some heirloom/investment pieces from a few of our projects:

chairs

Living room armchairs at our Marlborough St. Project.

dining room set

Dining room furniture at our Wickham Ave project.

dresser

Dresser at our Decatur St. project.

When it comes down to it, focus on quality and long term use, rather than buying something quick and cheap just for the sake of having it. If something is inexpensive, it is likely due to the fact that it is cheaply made and will probably fall apart on you within a few years.

Furniture in landfills is a also a huge waste of valuable materials and is a missed opportunity for the economy as it could provide thousands of job opportunities if people were hired to refurbish, take apart, and redistribute furniture materials for different uses. This would guarantee that resources are kept within and cycled back through the economy rather than wasted in landfills, or incinerators which increase the amount of the CO2 that gets released into the atmosphere.

Repurposing, recyling, and proper disposal of your furniture is SO important. Spread the word and do whatever you can to help bring those numbers down & to keep furniture waste out of landfills!

 

 

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