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Sustainability and Interior Design: The Importance of Purchasing Vintage

Sustainability and Interior Design: The Importance of Purchasing Vintage

Decorating your home sustainably by incorporating vintage design elements

Rick Schneider of Magpie Reclamations spoke at Evolution Home’s inaugural First Friday event in March about how you can live more sustainably by incorporating vintage furniture and decorative accents into your home. “Buying vintage reduces the production of new furniture, diverts vintage pieces from the landfill, and shrinks the community’s carbon footprint - all while introducing a unique historical piece into your personal design aesthetic,” he said. The title of his First Friday presentation was “Sustainability and Interior Design: The Importance of Purchasing Vintage.”

Discarded furniture is filling our landfills

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), generation of furniture and furnishings in municipal solid waste (MSW) was 12.1 million tons in 2018 (4.1 percent of total MSW), up from 2.2 million tons in 1960. A significant proportion (19.5 percent) of furniture and furnishings was combusted for energy recovery in 2018, but the majority of this product sector was landfilled (80.1 percent). By purchasing pre-owned vintage (and contemporary) furniture from businesses like Magpie Reclamations and Evolution Home, you are directly reducing these numbers.

Manufacturing furniture generates significant emissions

The lifecycle of new furniture generates carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at each stage. For example, the harvesting and processing of materials for new furniture accounts for 70-90 percent of the total emissions generated. It also contributes to deforestation, which is one of the leading causes of global warming, loss in biodiversity, and soil erosion.

The furniture manufacturing process accounts for 8-58 percent of CO2 emissions, followed by packaging and shipping from countries as far away as Vietnam and the Philippines, which accounts for 1-8 percent of emissions. By buying locally sourced and reclaimed furniture, you're lowering your carbon footprint compared to buying new.

Whether you’ve got a passion for Mid Century Modern, Art Deco, or 1980s postmodern design style, simply blending in antique or vintage pre-loved furniture from these eras into your home and existing decor makes a positive impact on the environment.