Over 83% of our sofas in the UK are not re-used*: how can we as consumers and citizens do our bit to ensure that our furniture stays out of landfill and instead has a long life of use and re-use? Here are seven top tips.
#1 Buy the most expensive one you can’t afford. Or buy second hand.
Quality and durability usually go together. The longer your sofa lasts in your living room, the longer it stays out of the landfill pile. These can be big investments, so if the cost seems prohibitive, check out #5 and look for a top quality secondhand piece.
#2 Ask more questions: become a citizen consumer
The more vocal we become as consumers, the more manufacturers and retailers will have to listen. When you’re buying a new sofa don’t be too timid to ask how long it’s expected to last, whether it has been designed with repair in mind, and where the materials are from. Even if the shop doesn’t know it’s likely that your queries will get fed back to Head Office and may set something in motion.
#3 Consider its end of life at the point of purchase
It may look wonderful in the shop, but have you considered the materials used, how it will wear, and whether it is a fashion victim or a lasting relationship? Are the covers removable and washable, and importantly does it come with a guarantee? Don’t forget to keep that receipt! There is plenty of information available online about the different options when you purchase and want to hand on a sofa. Try these sites for starters: Save our Sofas, Recycle Now or the Recycle or Donate Tool.
#4 Don’t cut off the fire label!
The removal of a fire label is one of the main reasons that sofas end up in landfill rather than being resold by re-use charities. Legislation is strict in the UK, so make sure you tuck the label in rather than chopping it off.
#5 Sell or give it away online
Rather than taking it down to the local tip or recycling centre, where it may or may not end up in the re-use shed, post your sofa up on eBay or Preloved, or give it away via Freegle, Freecycle or Streetbank; it’s not much more time consuming than a car journey, and will ensure that it has a new life.
#6 Get it re-upholstered
Once your sofa has lost its padding and looks a bit threadbare it may be time for a refresh. If the frame underneath is made from solid wood then it should be easily re-upholsterable, so have a look for local craftspeople or even better find a local class and learn a new skill!
#7 Support your local re-use network The Furniture Re-use Network operates throughout the UK, and there are similar local networks in many areas too. You can also book a free furniture collection from the British Heart Foundation.