In the U.S., 9.8 million tons of furniture ended up in the landfill in 2009 alone. In the consumerist society within which we live, we’re so oriented around what’s next that we often neglect to appreciate what we have. Purchasing used furniture offers innumerable benefits both to you as a consumer and to our society in general, but here’s a list of five to start.
1. It saves resources
Our world has reached “peak furniture,” according to former chief sustainability officer at Ikea, Steve Howard.
“In the West we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff, peak home furnishings,” said Howard.
The furniture industry is highly wasteful, and it takes a lot of resources to create new pieces, despite the fact that more than enough furniture already exists that is in good condition.
The depletion of natural resources is speeding up, and materials used to build furniture, like timber, are in high demand. Every piece of furniture that you purchase second-hand means the materials that would have been used to build it can be put to better use elsewhere.
2. It reduces waste
We’re constantly persuaded to consume more. Both by television and media as well as by societal expectations. We’ve been convinced that there is a time limit on furniture items, and that when it goes off, you must replace our old piece with its newer version. This means we throw things out before we need to, even if the item is in perfectly good shape.
Ontario landfills are expected to reach capacity by 2032, which is only 14 years away. One of the best ways to help keep unnecessary items out of the dump is to shop second-hand. When individuals opt to donate instead of tossing their furniture to the curb and a customer picks it out as the perfect piece for their home, you’re extending the lifecycle of a quality item and diverting waste from our already overburdened landfills.
3. It costs less
Canadians spent over $52 million on home furniture and furnishings in 2018, reveals Stats Can. Furniture is a highly lucrative industry and we as consumers are fueling its growth.
Oftentimes when we replace furniture, it’s not an item that needs replacing, but rather it’s one that we want to replace. But when you take a step back and put the purchase into context, do you truly feel it’s worth it to spend $2,000 on a brand-new couch? That same money could be used to fund a week-long vacation.
On the other hand, used furniture generally costs way less. That same couch initially priced at $2,000 could cost as little as $300, in nearly the same condition as it was when new.
Another great thing about buying low-cost used furniture, is that it’s less of a commitment. Purchasing a brand-new couch is an investment. Purchasing a second-hand couch at an affordable price is less of a commitment, and if you change your mind, you can always resell it at a similar price.
4. It benefits the community
Whereas large furniture stores rely on global supply chains and overseas manufacturing, second-hand stores tend to operate much more locally. Used furniture stores are generally independent and employ individuals who live right within your neighbourhood.
Many second-hand stores also give back to the community. To see which used furniture stores actually make a difference and actively support local not-for-profit organizations, click here.
5. Second-hand furniture has history
Every piece of used furniture has a story behind it. Maybe this floor lamp once sat in the study of a celebrated author, or maybe it was the light a mother used to read bedtime stories to her children. Whatever its history, there’s something special about owning an item that is a one-of-a-kind piece, rather than one assembled from a kit that’s in thousands of other homes across the country.
By purchasing used furniture, you’re giving the piece a second chance. This item is becoming a part of your story, and maybe one day, you’ll pass that history along to another family.
Your one-stop shop for used furniture: ReStore
Habitat HM’s ReStores have diverted more than 5.3 million pounds of waste from landfills in the past six years. Our stores allow us to not only help the environment and give local families access to affordable and quality items, but they also support Habitat’s mission.
Revenue from our ReStores allow us to support our organization’s necessary costs of administration, with net revenue going into our fund to build more affordable homes.
For a comprehensive list of the furniture we have for sale, click here.
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.
With files from The Independent.