“Fast fashion” is a major part of sustainability discussions, but we believe that “fast furniture” should be, too!
Unthinkable numbers of large furniture pieces are thrown into landfills every single year. A recent EPA estimate is that 9 million tons of furniture are disposed of in landfills each year. This means that 5% of all new material brought to landfills is furniture. What a waste!
Now imagine all of the packing materials and fossil fuels used to get those pieces of furniture to the store or warehouse and then to the home or business where they were only used for a few years.
A Definition of Fast Furniture
Fast furniture is designed to be cheap quality & inexpensive. Affordability is important, and everyone deserves to be able to live in a furnished home with the security of safe, dependable furniture. However, fast furniture comes with a lot of environmental drawbacks.
You’ve likely seen fast furniture for sale at some well-known big box stores, and other large corporations that sell mass-produced products. Often, fast furniture is imported and is assembled by the buyer at their home, business, or school.
This is a significant change from the past when people bought furniture designed to last for decades, even generations.
Some of the most popular fast furniture items are:
- Tables and chairs, indoor and outdoor
- Couches and loveseats
- Bookcases and shelves
- Dressers and armoires
- Storage units
Why Is Fast Furniture Popular?
The popularity of fast furniture is understandable. It’s more affordable, which makes it appealing to homeowners as well as corporations and institutions that need to purchase a lot of furniture.
Apartments, dormitories, offices, retail stores, and schools are all places that tend to be filled with fast furniture.
If businesses want to be more environmentally friendly, they should strategize ways to provide affordable furniture that doesn’t contribute to plastic pollution and overstuffed landfills. By making high-quality products that last, consumers won’t end up with broken and worn-down furniture after just a few years of use.
The Pushback Against “Fast”
Just like there has been a backlash against the fast fashion industry, there is a growing amount of pushback against the big names in fast furniture.
Consumers are voicing their concerns about where these products come from, the lack of sustainability in manufacturing processes, the environmental cost of massive amounts of global shipping, and the waste associated with a never-ending cycle of buy it/wear it out/throw it away/buy it again.
Some companies known for fast furniture are trying to strategize new ways of doing business. For example, IKEA and Pottery Barn have launched initiatives to try to keep their products out of landfills.
Who Is Responsible for Fixing the Fast Furniture Problem?
We won’t solve this problem easily. It takes a collaborative approach to improve environmental practices.
First, we need consumers to purchase products that match their environmental values. This can look like avoiding environmentally unsustainable companies, buying used items instead of new ones, and shopping from companies working to make a difference.
Second, we need incentives for companies to implement more sustainable business practices, including manufacturing and freight. High-quality, durable pieces last longer and only ship once, saving fuel, reducing emissions in manufacturing and shipping, and reducing landfilled waste.
Third, we need companies to adopt high standards of environmental care. Changing your business practices may take time and financial investment, but it is necessary and worth it to protect our climate and environment.
An Alternative to Fast Furniture: Recycled Furniture
At Polly Products, we produce high-quality, environmentally friendly recycled HDPE furniture.
HDPE stands for high-density polyethylene. It is a durable, weather-resistant material that is great for outdoor furniture.
By recycling plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill, we reduce the USA’s contribution to global plastic pollution. HDPE is also recyclable over and over again. So if someone needs a replacement component, we have the old part returned to us at our expense instead of it being thrown away. The old part is ground up and recycled into a new product.
And by creating furniture built to last for ages, we are working hard to make it unnecessary for people to pitch their outdoor furniture after just a few seasons! Our furniture stands the test of time and will last for generations.
Our Green Mission at Polly Products
We use 100% recycled plastic to make our furniture. Because we meet the EPA’s guidelines for park and recreation products, you can find our benches, tables, and other products in parks and public spaces throughout the country.
We want everything we do to be green! That means our products are green and so are our processes and company values! Our breakroom features our own little recycling center, filtered water stations for refilling water bottles, and LED lighting. We even provide REAL plates & silverware and a dishwasher for washing to eliminate single-use plastic utensils and cups. We are fully committed to protecting our environment and contributing to ecological conservation.