November 5th, 2010 by Guest Contributor
The task seems so big that it would be easy for everyone to throw up their hands and proclaim their inability to change the environmental problems that are currently ongoing. These include the depletion of forests and other natural habitats, the pollution of the air with greenhouse gases, the poisoning of water sources with toxic chemicals, and the loss of valuable land as it is converted into new garbage dumps to hold the mountains of refuse being thrown out each day. This Earth, however, is worth fighting for, and every individual act of green living can make a cumulative difference to future generations.
Consumers who want to be a part of the eco-friendly movement to slow the deterioration of the environment should consider recycling, restoring, and reclaiming the furniture they place in their homes. The following ideas should help those looking for green ways to furnish their homes:
Recycling Old Furniture
Believe it or not, older furniture is usually of higher quality than some of the pieces that have been manufactured more recently, and it is easy to find tables and chairs, couches and loveseats, stools and desks, and cabinets and bookcases, if you know where to look. The following are great sources for acquiring inexpensive second-hand furniture:
• Neighbors, friends, and relatives.
• Yard sales and flea markets.
• Consignment shops and thrift stores.
• Freecycle groups.
• The free section of Craig’s List.
• Your own household’s attic or basement
Restoring Used Furniture
Even gently used furniture may require a little work, but most pieces can be converted into amazingly useful and attractive additions to the home with a little effort. Some of the following tips may help you think about ways to bring expired furniture back to life.
• Take off the finish, sand down the scratches, and paint with a modern color (using an eco-friendly paint).
• Stencil the surface or apply decals to spots.
• Cover ugly or torn upholstery with fabulous new slipcovers.
• Pad the tops of wooden surfaces and cover with upholstery fabric.
• Add runners to the tops of bookcases or coffee tables and top with candles or floral arrangements.
• Sponge paint rough surfaces or use contact or wall paper to cover damaged areas.
Reclaiming Natural Resources
If new furnishings absolutely must be purchased, it is still possible to make eco-friendly choices. The following ideas may be useful in making these decisions:
• Choose bamboo products because this is a naturally renewing grass.
• Buy products made from reclaimed lumber which should have a label designating it as rediscovered wood.
• Consider products made from recycled plastic and metals.
These types of products are available for those willing to search for them, and as customer demand grows, companies will begin to develop and manufacture even more of them. Let’s be a part of that growing demand and make our voices heard in the eco-friendly marketplace.
This Going Green Tip comes to us from Caroline Smith, owner of GetSlipcovers.com, where you can find a range of slipcovers for sofas. Caroline is an avid recycler and enjoys bringing new life to second-hand furniture.
Photo Credit: jinkazamah via flickr (CC license)
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