Like many other disposable things, fast furniture (cheapy made seasonal pieces) has a short life cycle and more often than not end up in landfills. Data collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shared that furniture and furnishings which include items such as sofas, tables, chairs accounted for more than 12 million tons of municipal waste in the United States in 2018, which was four years ago now. As the graph below shows, this number only continues to increase year after year so we can safely assume it is an even higher number now.
As we all work to become more environmentally aware and sustainable in our practices, learning how to upcycle used furniture into new items is an actionable step we can take towards lowering our carbon footprints. Following DIY furniture hacks allow you to use already available pieces, whether that’s furniture you own or something you secure from second-hand shops, instead of buying new. If you are even a more handy woodshop-orientated type of crafter, building your pieces from scratch with reclaimed or sustainable materials is another eco-excellent way to decorate your home.
BUILD YOUR OWN FURNITURE HACKS
As the site Blue Green Tormorow shares, the are many ways individuals can build their own home furnishings with some straightforward eco-hacks. Going green is not limited to environmental conservation alone. Eco-friendly DIY furniture lets us reduce the burden on the planet by using sustainable materials and not contributing to practices of using hazardous materials, stripping the land of resources, and adding more waste to overflowing dumps. Thankfully furniture designers are shifting towards eco-friendly furnishing by incorporating green furniture.
Eco-Friendly Furniture Materials
When beginning your furniture plan, the first step is to consider what type of material you are going to use. Sustainable and eco-friendly choices are many.
- Forest Stewardship Council Certified Wood (FSC)– instead of using wood that has destroyed a forest, FSC wood comes from tree farms, commercial forests, and reclaimed sources. The FSC promotes sustainable harvesting of wood, so this choice leads towards a greener planet.
- Bamboo– a popular choice for environmental designers, bamboo grows quickly and is very strong making it an eco-friendly furniture material.
- Reclaimed Materials– reclaimed wood is collected from many sources: discarded wood, used furniture, flawed wood, or logs that were floated downstream but never reached the destination. Building furniture out of reclaimed wood is a good example of resource efficiency.
- Recycled Materials– using innovative methods, furniture these days is being made out of recycled plastics and metals which requires less energy and resources to process.
Guidelines For Making Eco-Friendly Furniture
To make stylish and sustainable furniture here are some other environmentally related considerations to take into account.
- What is the carbon footprint? How far has your recycled or FSC material traveled? Sourcing local is ideal.
- Are the raw materials non-toxic, renewable, and recyclable?
- Is the product biodegradable, reusable, and/or recyclable?
- Paint, varnish, upholstery- are the finishes non-toxic?
- Is the design long-lasting and are the materials durable?
Eco-Friendly Furniture Making Practical Tips
Cost-effective eco-friendly green furniture for a living room:
- Fabric– use natural fabric such as linen and cotton or recycled fiber. Generally aim to work with untreated fabrics.
- Stuffing– a better option than foam cushions is natural rubber foam or natural latex.
- Leather– a durable and stylish upholstery material, search for vegetable tanned leathers or vintage and used leather is perfect as well.
- Frames– look for salvaged or reclaimed timber or recycled steel with an FSC certification if possible.
Cost-effective eco-friendly green furniture for a dining room:
- Tables– avoid any plastics such as polyacrylates, polyethylene, and polycarbonates. Look for certified or salvaged wood, glass, or metal. Vintage or ‘pre-loved’ furniture is of course the best choice to keep a circular economy going.
- Side tables and dressers provide an opportunity to introduce creativity. Consider vintage, salvaged tree trunks, wine crates, or handcrafted stools.
DIY FURNITURE HACKS
Upcycle Second-Hand Furniture
A much better alternative to buying new low-cost furniture fast-made furniture is to take the time to search your local second-hand shops. Places like The Local Flea in the California Bay Area even offer all listings online and categorized to make your search easy peasy.
- Browsing second-hand shops can be an excellent way to find cost-effective, high-quality furniture.
- This is usually a less expensive, more durable, and a better quality option.
- Some pieces might be more rustic looking with plenty of character, that you can always refresh with a coat of eco-friendly paint.
- Or completely transform a piece into a whole new style.
- Remember, detail, such as color, trim, hardware, and those extra little touches go a long way in making the piece interesting.
- Other examples include stenciling designs on some drawers, or around the edge of a kitchen table.
Wallpaper on a table gives an old table a brand-new look. Topping with a coat of clear varnish after applying the wallpaper will seal everything in. This photo also shows a lovely way of decorating with florals.
Vintage Suitcase Bar Table
Thinking outside the box is where furniture hacks started. Instead of just seeing an old suitcase, you visualize a way to turn it into a table and display center for your drinkware. There are many examples of this trick around the internet and easily searchable DIY instructions.
From rustic to shabby chic to modern, there are countless ways to turn old doors into gorgeous headboards for the bedroom. Sand it down for a natural look, or add a pop of color for bolder decor themes. Using more than one is also a great hack.
Ottoman From a Car Tire
Another great DIY furniture hack that is good for the environment: using an old tire as a base for an ottoman. Save trash from the landfill and save a good deal of cash in your pocket. Another bonus: this recycled tire ottoman works both indoors and out. Especially if you seal the rope rather than leave it unfinished. Twisted sisal rope is great to use for this project.
Wooden Shipping Pallets
These wood pallets are everyone where. Easily sourced at your local supermarket or home good stores. There are SO many ways to resume these materials that there are entire websites generated just for these DIY furniture projects. Another great hack to keep valuable wood material in the circular cycle and use for indoor or outdoor furnishings.
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