Home-fill not landfill
The way we waste things such as food, clothing and furniture for no good reason is quite rightly coming under increasing scrutiny. Industry groups are reporting on it, people are talking about it round dinner tables and governments are (surprise surprise!) raising taxes to dissuade us from doing it. Whatever our incentive for adopting better practice, reducing waste is one of the most obvious ways to reduce our impact on the planet.
In the UK alone, according to a report produced in 2015 by the RSA Think Tank, we throw out items of furniture at a rate of around 672,000 tonnes every year. That’s a phenomenal amount by any standards. There are various reasons why furniture is thrown away but two key culprits will be (a) it has broken, and (b) we don’t like it any more. This accords with the common criticism that furniture is just not designed or built to last any more.
It is interesting that in an apparent contrast, the furniture industry is very alive to the issue of waste. IKEA says that in 2016 it sent 0% of its waste to landfill choosing instead to recycle it in other ways including incorporating it in its own products. It therefore cites sound financial reasons as well as corporate social responsibility as the drivers for this strategy. Clearly, profiting from waste rather than being taxed to bury it in landfill makes better sense moneywise. The accountants, PWC, have also zero’d their waste-to-landfill from certain areas of their business operations and we can be sure that they too will have a keen eye on the numbers benefit of doing so.
So what relevance does all this recycling activity have for new bespoke furniture? After all, adopting recycled furniture disposed of by others is not for everyone. The answer is quite simple: a properly constructed piece of furniture made to a design in which you have a personal stake will be something to be loved and enjoyed for the long term. It will take the knocks of life and, as a cherished piece, it is far more likely to be accommodated in subsequent makeovers instead of being thrown out. So commissioning bespoke furniture as a design statement can also, over its life, make more financial sense than you might at first think. Of course, please don’t forget to recycle any items it will be replacing!