There’s CO2 down the back of your sofa; it’s also embedded in the cushions, the framework, the production process, the transportation.
In 2009, WRAP published `Meeting the UK Climate Challenge: The Contribution of Resource Efficiency.’ This showed that one of the best resource efficiency strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions was re-use (after reducing our consumption of goods).
If we choose to buy new and fail to make our old sofa available for re-use, we emit, on average, 55Kg of CO2 (carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.
Reusing 1 tonne of sofas = 1.5 tonnes reduction in CO2 emissions.
Up to 1,000,000 sofas (ca 37,000 tonnes) are reused in some form in the UK every year. This is ONLY 17% of all the sofas reaching the end of their life each year.
Great! At least that’s 55,500 tonnes of CO2 not hitting the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the remaining 83% of sofas are sent to recycling, energy recovery or landfill.
It is estimated that 10 million items of furniture are discarded in the UK every year, of which over a third are sofas.
CO2 is in everything we do and purchase. As individuals, what can we do to reduce our climate-changing impact?
• Buy longer-lasting, quality items in the first place.
• Repair and reuse items.
• Donate unwanted, reusable items to charities like The Tree of Life Centre. Not only do they help the environment, they ensure local people have access to affordable household items and help alleviate material poverty.
If we don’t donate, perfectly reusable items end up in landfill or the incinerator.
• Use paid exchange networks and free exchange networks (e.g. Freecycle).
• Don’t cut off the fire safety label on sofas etc. Charities can’t re-use the sofas and armchairs without them.
• Reduce our overall desire for, and consumption of new items – consider buying second-hand. Often, the quality is far superior to new.
Data Source: WRAP (2011) `Benefits of Reuse Case Study – Domestic Furniture’.