Furniture disposal and the burden on landfills
Knowing what to do with unwanted furniture can be challenging. It’s often big and bulky, making it difficult to sell or recycle. The limited options available for disposal of unwanted furniture makes it the least-recycled item in the United States. Furniture currently makes up more than four percent of the 258 million tons of waste produced by Americans each year. This includes businesses and private citizens.
Unfortunately, the furniture that people no longer need when they move or upgrade to a newer style typically ends up in landfills and the country is running out of space. At the current rate of landfill use, the United States has just 18 years left before there’s nowhere to put garbage that’s non-recyclable.
It’s important for everyone to do their part now to prevent the nations landfills from reaching maximum capacity. Below are some tips for keeping home and office furniture out of landfills in the first place.
Reduce Furniture Purchases if Possible
Some pieces of furniture can double as other items, thereby reducing the need to buy multiple pieces. A sofa sleeper that pulls out into a bed in the perfect example. Overbuying furniture can be tempting, especially when it comes as a set.
It’s important to consider how well new furniture will fit into a space and whether buying multiple pieces is even necessary. Inquiring about a furniture store’s recycling policy before committing to a purchase along with its waste reduction policy can also help consumers make smart buying decisions.
Buy Pre-Owned Furniture Instead
Some pieces of furniture can last for decades, even when passed along to different people. Instead of heading to the furniture store when it’s time to replace or install furniture, people can save money and the environment by shopping their local want ads or secondhand store.
It will help a local citizen or business earn money and keep the used furniture out of a landfill. A slipcover can easily hide any outdated styles if that is a concern.
Waste Diversion Programs for Businesses
Office cubicles, which can way up to 700 pounds, are the most common types of office furniture that end up in landfills. Desks, chairs, privacy walls, and conference room tables are just some of the other types of furniture that thousands of businesses dispose of each year.
To combat this growing problem, a company called Green Standards developed an office furniture exchange program. It partners with 10,000 businesses to find a company that could use or refurbish office furniture that another company no longer needs.
Not only does Green Solutions prevent office furniture from taking up valuable space in American landfills, the program also reduces the demand on materials to create new office furniture. The carbon offset from this program is equal to the amount of energy required to provide power for 11,000 homes each year.
Additional, local hauling companies specializing in old furniture removal increasing embrace processes and messaging related to the prioritization of donating or recycling the furniture items they pickup.
Conscious furniture shopping and responsible recycling may not seem like big actions, but they can make a powerful impact when enough people get on board.