When you hear about sustainability today in the Lifestyle area you probably think first of using less plastic, and I agree, this is very important. But have you ever looked deeper into it and asked yourself what eventually happens to all those items which are around you in your home? Your home textiles, boxes, furniture, accessories… can they be recycled or will they soon be added to the mountain of waste in some far off land?
Nowadays, just as for the fashion clothing industry, you will find fashion furniture and accessories for your home. As exciting it is to think you can get a new fashionable outfit for almost every day at a low price, you can also buy inexpensive furniture and accessories at a price that your local cabinet maker won’t be able to match. Let’s say that the billions of tons of “fast” furnishing items available would be all recyclable or reused… it doesn’t mean it is sustainable… that is, long lasting to minimize waste. The truth is that most of our “home” items aren’t sustainable or recyclable.
What you can do with your current home items:
- repair everything you can; not just mechanical and electrical devices but also your furniture and soft furnishings such as cushions, blankets, curtains etc. A good upholsterer can re-upholster your couch, armchairs etc. and make it fashionable and usable for years to come. If an old cabinet needs work, paint it or have it refinished at a cabinet shop to give it new life!
- take care of your belongings. Check my last post about how to take care of your decoration items.
- if you realize you did a wrong buy and can’t return it then give it to someone else, donate it, or sell it at a flea market or your next garage sale.
- DIY recycles! Try sewing your own reusable fabric shopping bags or making cushions out of your old plaids, curtains etc. Redesign your furniture; paint them in a new color, give them a new look and feel or… give them another function…Click here for some book recommendations about redesigning your decoration items.
- don’t think “anyway it was so cheap, I can get rid of it and buy something new”. Instead get creative and think “how can I make my furnishings fashionable and give them new life!
What you can do when you buy something new:
- Check the make of the material of the new item you want to buy… A lot of the fabrics used for decoration items are made of synthetic fibers… on one hand it helps the fabrics to be more resistant, on the other hand they are so resistant that they are not biodegradable and often not recyclable when thrown away! With furniture, by the best quality you can afford. This will allow you to redesign the item, sometimes several times, and prolong its lifespan (ultimately saving the cost of replacement).
- Try to buy natural-fiber textiles
- Always look first for alternative to plastic. One thing that makes a charming home décor other the years is the patina of time reflected in natural products… like the charm of an old leather club armchair, or older wooden shelves… with plastic you will never reach this “cozy” look!
- Buy real wood instead of composites with synthetic materials when possible. I love it when I am in the USA and see all these artisans and traditionally-made wooden furniture… they are so beautiful. Most of them are timeless and you would never think of replacing it in the future!
- Be picky, buy quality over quantity. Pay a little more and get a lot more!
- Buy second-hand, in antique shops, flea markets and garage sales.
- Don’t buy if you’re not 100% convinced it is what you need, I myself have learned this the hard way.
In general, try to buy less… whether you want new clothing or new home décor. It is not because something seems “affordable” that you have to buy it!
Fast furnishing companies come with a new collection almost as fast as the clothing industry. Make sure you do your “homework” before you buy something and are sure you need it, and that the item is sustainable. Adopting a sustainable living style where you consider the use of our planet’s resources while minimizing waste, will keep you fashionable and provide a sense of satisfaction long into the future.