We have all heard about fast fashion over the last year or so. We all know there are great high street and online clothing deals to be had but we also know what it can mean in terms of production and the environment. The trend for upcycling clothing and buying well and buying less is becoming a thing but what about furniture? Is it the same?
Fast Furniture? Should It Go The Way Of Fast Fashion?
Flat Pack Generation
If you are reading this then it would be very fair to guess you had at least 4 bits of flat pack furniture in your flat or house right now…have a look around? It would also be fair to assume as a child you had witness adults in your life struggling with flatpack beds and more. It is seriously ingrained in our buying habits and for good reason. Flat pack furniture changed everything, it meant people could buy cheaper things for the home, more often and that was fun! We can re decorate every couple of years, we can move into a new flat and buy wardrobes, drawers, beds etc at affordable prices and have it all built in no time (well…hours of stress in some cases).
The Old Way
Before we had flat pack, people bought furniture to last a lifetime. Ask your grandparents, in fact, have a think back to younger years visiting older relatives. I bet you can think of a bookshelf that seemed like it was there forever, or perhaps a chest of drawers made of heavy wood and looked ancient. Well, that’s because when they bought furniture it really was there forever. Anyone who has had to clear out a house after an elderly relative has passed away will have noticed old and often very heavy furniture.
So, is Fast Furniture Bad?
Well, yes…it kind of is and for different reasons.
The first is simple, the less we pay for something and the lower quality it tends to be because of the lower price the faster it gets thrown away. Cheap stuff doesn’t last so it creates more waste in terms of rubbish and uses more resources and energy to make.
Secondly producing anything uses chemicals and paints and these all take a toll on the environment.
Thirdly the more we buy the more shipping is needed and that means more fuel, packaging and energy which means more CO2 and pressure on the environment.
Fourth, anything cheap has to be made in factories that take costs very seriously and this could mean poor staff wages and conditions. It is not always the case, but it is a risk.
Sorry…there is no easy way to say it, buying cheap furniture is just as bad, if not worse than fast fashion.
What Is the Alternative?
Well, just like fashion the alternatives are actually quite fun, but some can be expensive. The simple answer is to buy better quality products and buy them less often. It really is that simple! There are loads of amazing UK companies creating amazing handmade furniture from luxury dining chairs to hand made beds and everything in between. But not everyone can afford to spend £2500 on a bed so what can we do? Again, just like the fashion solution the key is to buy used furniture.
Have a trawl though sites like this https://www.preloved.co.uk/classifieds/furniture-fittings/household-furniture/all/uk/handmade+furniture and you will find some really cool stuff. There are two roads to go down! One is to keep looking until you find something just right for you, check Facebook marketplace, eBay and the rest and you will find some amazing stuff. The second is a bit more “crafty” and this is to buy something you can upcycle, simply repaint or get it refinished.
Pass It On
The great thing about buying long lasting good quality furniture is that when you really can’t use it anymore, maybe its done 2 colour changes already and you just don’t need it, you can pass it on or sell it! Flatpack furniture is normally always broken by the time you want rid of it and resale value is low. Selling on a hardwood handmade bookshelf is a lot easier and you might even make some money! Good furniture can live longer than us, and it can be repaired too! It really is worth just trying to maybe swap one bit of fast furniture for something long lasting, if you can do 2 bits or more than that’s even better! Its fun, the furniture is much nicer to have around and its better for the environment.