September 27, 2023


A Home Grown Success

I haven’t bought a solitary piece of home furniture this calendar year

When my partner and I moved into our condominium in Brooklyn, the 266-unit creating had every thing we had been hunting for: a balcony, a washer-dryer, and a modest gymnasium (but really do not question me how many times I’ve been). The building’s most important useful resource, however, exposed alone a small later: an on the net bulletin board brimming with neighborly information, puppy walker recommendations—and high quality secondhand furniture up for grabs.

The to start with piece we acquired was a desk chair. Then arrived a desk, then another desk, a spherical mirror, a rustic picket dresser, a paper-shade flooring lamp, a 50-inch Tv set, and my most prized acquisition—and only actual purchase—an upright electronic piano for just $300. And lest you consider of us as freeloaders, you need to know that in return, we have parted with a scaled-down dresser, a giant pouf, another desk, and a number of puppy toys.

Neighborhood swaps like Nextdoor have been around for a long time, as have grassroots actions like Freecycle or the Buy Nothing at all Job. But bulletin boards like the one in my making may nicely be one particular of the most underrated, most sustainable secondhand home furnishings platforms all around. A lot like heirlooms utilised to get handed down from generation to technology, I’ve discovered that it has crystallized the importance of sourcing household furniture as near to household as achievable.

Us residents toss absent extra than 12 million tons of furnishings every year. This is perpetuated by the rapid furniture field, which continues to churn out low-cost, lower-high-quality goods that never final extensive and conclude up in landfills. Lots of of these parts also journey 1000’s of miles prior to they land on your doorstep: In 2020 by yourself, Vietnam delivered much more than $7.4 billion well worth of furnishings to the United States.

Making community forums could assist relieve some of that stress. My building’s discussion board is operate by a assets administration software organization known as BuildingLink. It was established in 1999 and launched the bulletin board aspect about a year later as a way to foster neighborhood and facilitate communication, says Zachary Kestenbaum, BuildingLink’s CEO.

Nowadays, Kestenbaum is viewing more than 2,500 posts a week connected to home furniture and dwelling furnishings, and an additional 2,000 posts for other merchandise like exercise devices, bikes, electronics, and clothing—and the trend extends significantly further than New York Town. He states residents in some 3,000 properties are working with the bulletin board to put up about furnishings, from San Diego and Pittsburgh to Toronto and Sydney.

For a when, Craigslist was the only massive participant in the secondhand home furnishings industry, but around the earlier number of several years a slew of furniture startups, from Chairish to Apartment Treatment to Kaiyo, have jumped on the bandwagon. In the meantime, an rising amount of companies from Ikea to Sabai have released buyback packages for consumers wanting to provide their outdated Billy bookcase or buy a refurbished couch. The business enterprise has come to be so prosperous that by 2025, the household furniture resale sector is predicted to strike $16.6 billion, a 70% enhance from 2018.

By offering an substitute to low cost disposable items, these providers are having furnishings out of the waste stream, but the shipping conundrum stays. In 2019, carbon emissions from delivery home furnishings manufactured up 3% of total greenhouse fuel emissions that yr. By comparison, when I observed that my upstairs neighbor was offering away his desk chair, all I experienced to do was trip an elevator to get it. This saved me up to 72 kilograms of CO2 linked to building and delivery a chair—or the equal of 179 miles driven by a fuel-driven automobile.

And no, I just can’t know if each individual piece of furniture I have obtained from my creating is produced of sustainably sourced wooden. But I know I get to decide on what goes in my home—and it truly doesn’t will need to travel 30,000 miles to get below.