How Recycling Furniture Makes a Difference
Approximately 1.5 tonnes of waste each year is being produced by each household in Australia. On a national level, this is more than 50 million tonnes (source: Australian Bureau of Statistics). Expect this number to go up as we approach the year 2050 where there could be more than 40 million people living here.
Proper disposal and recycling have been around for decades and with the increased environmental awareness here in Australia, we’re moving in the right direction when it comes to sustainability and environmental protection. More and more households now compost or recycle garden waste, eat more vegetables instead of meat (meat products require huge amounts of water and food resources plus we also have to deal with animal waste), choose businesses with environment-friendly practices and even recycle or upcycle their existing furniture.
How recycling furniture makes a difference
For both upcycle and recycle, we can see the root word is “cycle.” In other words, the goal is to bring back the item or material into the cycle instead of exiting the loop. This is in contrast with our old industrial practices where after use, the products exit the loop and the waste end up in the landfill.
Aside from reducing waste, upcycling and recycling also help in reducing the extraction of virgin materials from the environment and other resources. For instance, instead of cutting down a tree for its wood, we get the wood material from existing furniture and other objects. Instead of getting out from the loop and then extracting something new from the outside, we rely on what’s already in the loop.
This is already an old concept because we have been recycling and repurposing furniture pieces before environmental awareness became mainstream. This is the case with restoring furniture (both antique and slightly damaged furniture). Whether it’s due to their financial or sentimental value, those valuable furniture pieces have their beauty and function maintained due to effective restoration techniques. The practice even continuously improves because there are now low-VOC coatings and craftsmen now have techniques to keep intact most of the original material. In addition, upcycling has become popular because a furniture item can be transformed into something else (e.g. old kitchen cabinets transformed into a small desk or drawers).
Apart from helping the environment because of waste minimisation and virgin material reduction, upcycling and recycling also result in cost savings (i.e. no need to buy new furniture) and support to our local businesses and industry. On a national scale, this can transform our economy because of the increasing pressure to adopt more responsible practices.
Recycling or upcycling furniture is just one of the several ways in environmental protection and sustainability. Together, they can all make a huge difference to our daily living, national economy and the future of our country. This is the perfect time to contribute, which is why before purchasing a new table or desk, consider other options such as upcycling and recycling.