How to Protect and Care for Outdoor Furniture
The statistics on waste in the United States are pretty sobering:
The U.S., home to just 4 percent of the world’s population,
generates more than 30 percent of its total waste.
Durable goods make up 20.4 percent of the country’s
garbage, including furniture and appliances.
42 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to
manufacturing and waste streams, from producing goods to disposing of them.
Waste extraction, dumping, burning, and transportation
contributes significantly to air pollution, water contamination,
ocean pollution, and natural habitat destruction.
The EPA has estimated that about 9 million tons of
furniture end up in landfills each year.
So while we do love a redesign, we also really love our planet and believe that protecting it should be a priority. One of the best approaches any of us can take to ensuring that we’re not contributing to furniture pile-ups in landfills, and their associated environmental pollution, is by focusing on durable, timeless designs.
Trends come and go practically with the speed of a tweet, but timeless styles will feel as “of the moment” now as they will in two or three decades. And they’re easy to accessorize with soft goods, which gives you nearly limitless ways to switch up your look.
You can also give chairs, sofas, ottomans, and specialty seating, a face-lift with new upholstery. In fact, as long as the frame is still structurally sound, you can keep reupholstering for as long as you own the piece. Of course, there’s an expense associated with it, but it costs a lot less than replacing the entire chair or sofa.
Top-quality outdoor furniture, which goes through a rigorous quality-control process, will easily last 10 to 20 years—and sometimes more, depending on what it’s made of and how conscientious you are in taking care of it. For example, teak chairs and tables have been known to withstand the elements for several decades.
Note that best quality doesn’t always mean “most expensive,” but, in general, you’ll pay more for furniture that’s built to last. Since you won’t need to replace it very often, however, you’ll actually save money over purchasing lots of “throwaway” pieces that last for only a season or two before wearing out or looking hopelessly outdated. Remember all those blond pine and pine-veneer pieces of the 1980s? Yep, we prefer not to think about them, either.
There’s no doubt that quality furniture is an investment, but it’s a smart one—both for your wallet and the planet—over the long term. Say you buy a beautifully made outdoor sofa that costs $6,000, and you use it for 15 years. That amounts to a cost per year of $400, which is less than you’ll pay to replace a sofa from a discount manufacturer or retailer every year or two. And it’s a lot fewer pieces that wind up at the dump.
Outdoor furniture made from quality, long-lasting materials and that has timeless style will not only save you money; it will also allow you to use your favorite pieces in a variety of outdoor “rooms” and settings, every time you redesign. Even better, it will keep waste out of our landfills and pollution out of our waterways and air, making the earth cleaner and healthier for future generations. We can’t think of a better investment.