When you take sustainably designed principles and mix them with classic, well-crafted furniture, what do you get? Slow furniture, of course! British designer Anna Burns coined this term to describe pieces designed for long-term use, emphasizing quality over quantity. So if you’re looking for furniture that will last for years – and help the environment in the process – look no further than slow furniture.
“Buy Less. Choose Well. Make it Last.” – Vivienne Westwood
What is Slow Furniture?
Slow furniture is all about adding quality and long-lasting items rather than disposable decor to your home. Like the slow fashion movement, slow furniture rejects cheap, mass-produced, poor-quality goods.
What is Fast Furniture?
Fast furniture is a term used to describe furniture that is designed to be quickly produced and consumed. It is often made from cheap materials that are not meant to last, and it is often mass-produced in factories using assembly-line techniques.
The Slow Furniture Movement
And although fast furniture products come with tempting, inexpensive price tags and offer instant gratification, they do not withstand the test of time – or the next design trend. Therefore, consumers are ditching these fast options and shopping purposefully for sustainable, environmentally friendly, and high-quality items. This is called the Slow Furniture Movement.
So why not slow down and say goodbye to “fast” home furniture (and decor)?
You don’t have to opt for one-click purchases from big box stores to cheaply and quickly fill your home with stuff. Instead, you can slowly decorate a home that’s uniquely you without sacrificing style, and you’ll get to put your money where your values are.
The Problem with Fast Food & Fast Fashion
- According to the EPA, consumers toss 9 million tons of furniture into landfills each year.
- Most of the furniture in landfills was made within the last 10-15 years.
It’s tempting to pull up to a McDonald’s drive-thru and order a combo meal when you’re hungry or buy mass-produced catwalk knockoffs to keep up with the latest fashion trends, but we typically regret these decisions. We know that healthy food options and clothing choices that won’t be banished to the back of the closet (or, worse, the bottom of a landfill) exist.
Still, fast food and fast fashion are cheap, easy, and quick alternatives. Unfortunately, we are similarly fooled by fast furniture. However, these trendy furnishings are short-lived solutions, designed to last years instead of decades or centuries.
They are also commonly made from cheap materials like particleboard and contain harsh chemicals like formaldehyde which are challenging to recycle. In fact, fast furniture is the least recycled household item and one of the fastest-growing landfill categories.
Slow Design & Sustainable Furniture Resources:
The good news is that there are sustainable furniture resources to help you make informed, slow furniture purchases.
- The Sustainable Furnishings Council – (https://sustainablefurnishings.org/) provides many free materials, publishes The Wood Furniture Scorecard, and is part of the “what’s it made of” initiative.
- The Ellen MacArthur Foundation – (https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/) is a charity working to transition the world to a circular economy since 2010. (See circular economy blog post). This site has tons of information and resources.
Look for these tags when you are shopping for furniture and decorative accessories:
- Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) – Products awarded this certification are produced in eco-friendly ways and can be recycled after use. C2C is the global standard for safe, circular, and responsibly made products.
- Fair Trade Certified™ – Products with this seal are made according to rigorous, social, environmental, and economic Faire Trade standards. The farmers, workers, and fishermen also earn additional money from purchases.
- FSC (Forest Stewardship Council® )Certification – Products with this certification come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. There are three types of FSC labels for FSC-certified products: FSC 100%, FSC MIX, and FSC RECYCLED.
- GREENGUARD Certified – Products with this certification have low chemical emissions.
- Rediscovered Wood Certification, Rainforest Alliance – Products awarded this certification use reclaimed wood.
Create a Slow Home
Finding and decorating with slow furniture requires a little patience. It is, by definition, a slow process that involves research, saving for high-quality (expensive) purchases, hunting for fabulous finds, and reusing and repurposing items. Yet this decorating pace should make decorating your home more enjoyable since there is no deadline. As a result, you can let your home’s interior evolve per your style rather than be tethered to trends.
Questions to ask when making Slow Furniture Purchases:
When making slow furniture purchases, consider the following:
- Will the piece work in the space (or even fit through the front door)?
- Will you use the item (i.e., piano) or maintain it (i.e., glass top kitchen table)?
- Will you love the furniture piece in ten years, or will you want to replace it in a few months?
- Can you make purchases from local artists or sites like Etsy and support small businesses?
- Can you shop for furniture pieces at vintage stores, estate sales, flea markets, and online platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and eBay?
- Do you want to rent furniture from sites like Feather and Fernish?
- Do you want to borrow items from “people in your neighborhood” on sites like Peerby?
- Can you upcycle furniture pieces?
- Can you donate items to organizations including The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Habitat for Humanity ReStore?
So tell me, how do you beautify your world and better the planet with slow furniture?
If you’re looking for sustainable, stylish slow furniture that will last for years, Shop the Studio. Our collection of repurposed and up-cycled furniture is perfect for anyone who wants to create a slow home that’s unique and beautifully designed. Shop now and get free shipping on orders over $99!