The growing demand for furniture comes at a high price to the environment and human rights. Buying brand new furniture online has become increasingly convenient, and it’s tempting to constantly upgrade pieces in your home, especially when you can purchase them at such low costs. Despite some companies committing to more sustainable and ethical practices, the environmental benefits of buying used furniture greatly exceed that of buying new pieces. Additionally, you can avoid supporting unethical labor practices by not purchasing cheap new furniture. This post highlights the environmental and human rights benefits of buying used furniture.
Environmental and Human Rights Benefits
The furniture industry is one of the most pollutive, least sustainable industries on the planet. Cheap furniture in particular, comes at a high price in terms of sustainability and human rights. Buying or used furniture is advantageous for the following reasons:
- Less wasteful: Each year millions of tons of furniture are discarded in the U.S. and U.K. Americans discard more than 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings each year, 80 percent of which ends up in the landfill. In the U.K., 22 million pieces of furniture as discarded yearly.
- Less deforestation: Furniture is often made from wood, which means trees need to be cut down. Deforestation contributes to soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Less plastic: The global plastic furniture market was valued at 11.9 billion in 2018. Plastic is detrimental to the environment as it’s made from fossil fuels and is not biodegradable. Additionally, each year nearly 20,000 tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean.
- Human rights: Furniture production, especially cheap furniture, can involve unfair wages or even child or forced labor. By not supporting companies that use exploitative labor practices, you are voting for a more just world.