Running a sustainable household can take on a slew of different forms. You might have already shortened your showers, started a compost pile or installed a programmable thermostat. However, there’s always more to do — and being more conscious of what you bring into your home can make a huge difference for the planet.
We have a plethora of options when filling our abodes with furniture, clothes, jewelry and other belongings. We can shop for all new items, or we can opt for vintage versions of what we need. The latter provides us with many environmental benefits, starting with these three.
There’s a reason why you can still buy furniture from decades or even centuries ago. These high-quality pieces typically come from natural resources, such as wood, stone or metals. As such, they last longer than the often-manmade options in big-box stores today.
Newer designs typically last between 15 and 20 years at most. After that, they don’t increase in value like antiques do. Instead, many are dumped in landfills — 1,609 pounds of waste per American ends up here each year. Buying new means that, in just a few years, you’ll be contributing an extra-large load of garbage. If you buy an antique, though, you’ll have furniture for life.
The demand for new belongings — whether art, jewelry, clothes or furniture — means manufacturers will provide. To do so, they mine for the resources they need to build what consumers want. While it’s a process that’s unlikely to ever end, it’s also a wasteful one in many cases since an already-made antique typically exists that can work just as well as its modern version. Buying it secondhand means your purchase requires no new resources. Plus, you’ll do your part to decrease demand for these items, to boot.
Once you’ve purchased an antique, you’ll have an item you can likely re-sell down the line. This act will prevent someone else from buying a quick-fix piece for their home, too. You can always replace your valuables with new ones purchased from an antique shop, private seller or even at auction. Some antique shops and auctions are even available to access via the convenience of your smartphone. Whichever option you prefer, you can bring home beautiful pieces without wasting any resources.
The carbon footprint of modern furniture spikes more than 30 kilograms higher than an antique piece. The reason? Often, these mass-produced pieces come from overseas, which means they require fuel and freight to bring them to you. On the other hand, you will likely pursue and pick antique furniture from national — or even local — sellers. Once you choose what you want, it will probably travel a driveable distance, rather than flying or shipping to your doorstep.
The investment you make in antique pieces will be well worth it, both for the beauty of your home and for the earth. The above benefits only scratch the surface of the many merits of buying secondhand. So, change your shopping habits today and start purchasing wisely — the planet will thank you.