Swapping and sharing clothes or toys are nowadays very common. Even carsharing and land share has become successful. The sharing economy is nothing new, it’s around for over 10 years. But how about swapping furniture?
20 billion pounds of furniture end up in landfills annually in the US. In the UK a survey of over 2,000 first-time buyers and renters revealed a third are sending their unwanted goods to landfill, rather than finding ways to give them a new lease of life. This means 800 000 tonnes of furniture (220 million pieces of furniture) and other household goods end up in landfill every year, often because we have cut off the regulation fire label so rehoming is not possible. This isn’t sustainable. Do you agree?
In this article, I want to make you aware of the possibilities we have to keep furniture out of landfills by applying a concept that is hundreds of years old. You guessed it!
From a young age, we know: Sharing is caring. But how do we apply this concept as we become adults and raise our own children? I’m an only child, so I didn’t have to share my toys with my siblings. This didn’t change much after becoming an adult. Having two children has shifted my perspective a lot. Baby clothes and toys were already hand-me-downs from cousins and happily received for my kids as they saved a fortune. I did realize very quickly how beneficial sharing can be even on a small scale. You will still earn a strange look from me though when you ask if you could get a bite of my sandwich. Sharing my lunch isn’t for me…
But enough of me!
As mentioned above too much furniture ends up in landfills as we evolve our style or move our homes (on average every 1-2 years). I remember having moved home nine times, three times in the UK, and that only in one decade. Crazy, but that’s life! When we move so often, we tend to get cheap low-quality furniture rather than high-quality furniture that lasts and can be passed on to the next generation.
The idea of swapping furniture is not new. People with great interior taste but who get bored with their own furniture after a while are already swapping their interiors with friends. If you have a friend who has great style, ask if you can swap some wall hangings, decor, or even the sofa. If you are brave, you could even swap the whole room with hers/his. You don’t lose anything apart from some time. In times of peer-to-peer platforms like Facebook, the swapping gets even easier. Join a local group or create one and start swapping right away. Consider some rules to make sure the participants treat the furniture gently and like their own.
In my article about How to shop sustainable for your home, I touch on the benefits of renting furniture. If you are a student or you live in a short-term rental then this is a great option. There are many furniture companies out there that offer contemporary and stylish furniture for a fee.
Feather, based in the US, has specialized in renting furniture for urban living. You can rent different packages that fit your apartment size or packages for rooms. Your monthly furniture payments can go toward a buyout. The company has a more responsible approach to furniture and offers a circular concept one that’s grounded in rental, reuse, and refurbishment.
Source: Feather – furniture rental.
If you are based in the UK there are also furniture rentals where you can find curated packages for your needs.
If you are like me you love second-hand furniture shops or online platforms. It gives me a feeling of buying a piece of history. Vintage is still on-trend, but you can get even preloved contemporary furniture. As mentioned before in urban spaces people move on average every 1-2 years. Not all furniture fits in the new place. Some people get a sofa or an armchair for a home office and nobody ever sat on it for a whole year. You don’t have to be a vintage fan to be a preloved furniture fan. One of my sofas I got from an online second-hand platform was just one year old when it was put on the marketplace.
When we moved into our Valley House I decorated an entire room only with preloved furniture and lighting. I found the challenge of finding the right pieces that also match and complement each other fascinating. Buying preloved and donating your furniture contributes to the circular economy. It keeps the furniture in the loop and out of landfills. It also feels great!
If I provoked some thoughts in you on this topic, feel free to leave me a comment. And don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter below.