4 Reasons Why Buying Pre-owned Fine Furniture is Better for the Planet than Buying New Furniture

4 Reasons Why Buying Pre-owned Fine Furniture is Better for the Planet than Buying New Furniture

After achieving some professional success, people want to feel like a Baron in their home, proud in its reflection of their achievements and personal growth.  Instead, people hunch their shoulders and apologize when Zoom calls accidentally pan their college dorm replica surroundings.    

While most people inherit a fair amount of furniture from their family, today's younger generation is often bewildered where to buy "nice stuff."  The Colonel feels it important that you know Amazon Essential furniture doesn't cut it for grown ups.

In a world where young families tend to avoid their parent's habits of going to Ethan Allen, a department store furniture section, or a Rooms2Go similar megastore, the Colonel often sees these lost souls milling around West Elm showrooms wondering what their apartments and houses are lacking.   Outside the fancy lighting of the showroom, their mid-century modern nightstand looks suspiciously similar to something from Target, while setting its purchaser back $1K. There is no need to be humiliated by cheap looking furniture.

Interest in pre-owned fine furniture, made from solid wood with dovetailed drawers, and coated with natural shellac finishes is growing.  A recent customer told the Colonel that he had always admired a set of bookshelves his mentor had while he was in school.  Now all grown up, buying his first home as a professional, he sought to purchase a set of similar bookshelves for himself.  He had investigated the lack of sturdiness in new bookshelves and decided he wanted something that would last his whole career also.

Here are four reasons why secondhand furniture may be better for you.  It is decidedly better for the planet.

  1. Fast furniture is bound to wind up in the trash after a year or two.  Particleboard furniture, whether it is from Ikea, Target, West Elm, etc doesn't look good forever.  Like an ice cream cone on a sultry day, the finish will bubble over time.  Many of these items are treated with formaldehyde and can be toxic. Many companies are deceptive about their materials.  Note vague descriptions like "mahogany+engineered wood body plus walnut and white water based finishes". Engineered wood is a large category that includes furniture grade plywood as well as MDF and particle board. It's not clear what role the mahogany plays - is it structural? Or is it the veneer? And then the walnut finish presumably means a stain? (And the white finish is paint?) So potentially this is just ikea grade thin veneer over MDF, and kind of overpriced at $1300. Temporary furniture can serve a vital need when your budget is very meager or you are testing a furniture trend, but keep in mind you can often pick up secondhand furniture made of solid wood for the same price as new.  
  2. Pre-owned furniture has a smaller carbon footprint--less manufacturing waste, packaging, and shipping.  For example, buying a preowned sofa can offset as much as 71 kg of CO2.
  3. It outlives you to last multiple generations.  If you buy a fine quality dining table and take care of it, you will only need one during your lifetime.  In reality, people usually have three.  One when they are in college/young unmarried professional; One when they have a family with kids/holiday visitors/entertaining needs; and One when they are empty nesters again.  If your large table was nice to start with, you may hand it down to your children who now have adult sized table needs.
  4. It can be modernized to fit new aesthetics. While the Colonel is not a huge fan of people vandalizing fine mahogany with chalk paint, there are opportunities to update fine furniture to fit into new decor.  He loves an ebonized leg, but your environment may call for breezy whitewashing to fit into your low country estate.

12 million tons of furniture are dumped every year, according to the 2021 Global Furniture and Home Furnishings report.  Save the Earth and choose secondhand fine furniture.



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