On the hunt for the right stuff to furnish your green home or office? When you’re looking to boost your decor, it behooves both you and Mother Earth to choose vintage furniture whenever possible. Buying secondhand furniture and decor is not only a fun way to express your unique style, it’s a great way to ensure that your hard earned dollars are not trashing the planet. Another bonus of vintage furniture: it can save you loads of cash for more fun stuff (like gadgets and new bicycles!)
One of the main benefits of choosing vintage is that you are saving all the raw materials and energy used in the manufacturing and transport of new furniture, known as embodied energy. By choosing secondhand, you’re helping to keep resources in the ground, reducing the amount of waste in your community, and encouraging recycling, upcycling, and resale.
Finding the right vintage furniture can take some time, but checking out your local secondhand shops, flea markets, and Craigslist can lead you to the treasure you seek. Such vintage treasures might require a little elbow grease to make them look like new, but small fixes or some quick upholstery work can make a older piece better than new. You can get creative with couch covers or tapestries to cover up an especially “unique” looking couch or chair if you’re not feeling crafty.
Another good reason to choose secondhand is that new furniture contains dozens of chemicals that release into the air in a process known as “off-gassing.” New furniture, carpets, paints, and decor release dozens of chemicals (known as volatile organic compounds) into the room, leading to indoor air pollution. Choosing vintage furniture is a way to decrease the amount of VOCs in the home or office and keep your family safer.
But of course, one of the most pressing reasons to choose vintage is that is saves hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars. Newer couches can cost anywhere from $1,500-$5,000, while secondhand couches almost always come in under $1,000. The difference is not as huge – but there are definitely savings to be had– for other items like beds, chairs, dining sets and decor. If you’re not saving, you might be shopping at the wrong thrift store!
And if you’re on the other side and looking to ditch your furniture, you can make a big dent in your waste load by donating or sharing your used stuff. Some thrift stores will take furniture (some will even pick it up), but you can also check with local charities like Big Brothers, Big Sisters that collect furniture and household items for community members in need. Sometimes schools, churches, and other community groups can take items off your hands too. Avoid junk collection agencies like 1-800-Got-Junk, as they just trash the furniture. Unless your furniture has totally fallen apart or is otherwise damaged (infested with bugs or potentially hazardous), there’s probably someone ready to make your trash into their treasure.
Couch image from Flickr Creative Commons