I haven’t bought a single piece of furniture this year

When my husband and I moved into our rental in Brooklyn, the 266-unit constructing had all the pieces we have been in search of: a balcony, a washer-dryer, and a small gymnasium (however don’t ask me what number of occasions I’ve been). The constructing’s most treasured useful resource, nonetheless, revealed itself somewhat later: a web based bulletin board brimming with neighborly recommendation, canine walker suggestions—and high quality secondhand furnishings up for grabs.

The first piece we acquired was a desk chair. Then got here a desk, then one other desk, a spherical mirror, a country picket dresser, a paper-shade flooring lamp, a 50-inch TV, and my most prized acquisition—and solely precise buy—an upright digital piano for simply $300. And lest you consider us as freeloaders, it’s best to know that in return, we’ve parted with a smaller dresser, a large pouf, one other desk, and several other canine toys.

Neighborhood swaps like Nextdoor have been round for years, as have grassroots actions like Freecycle or the Buy Nothing Project. But bulletin boards just like the one in my constructing might be one of the vital underrated, most sustainable secondhand furnishings platforms round. Much like heirlooms used to get handed down from era to era, I’ve discovered that it has crystallized the significance of sourcing furnishings as near dwelling as doable.

Americans throw away greater than 12 million tons of furnishings yearly. This is perpetuated by the quick furnishings trade, which continues to churn out low cost, low-quality merchandise that don’t final lengthy and find yourself in landfills. Many of those items additionally journey 1000’s of miles earlier than they land in your doorstep: In 2020 alone, Vietnam shipped greater than $7.4 billion value of furnishings to the United States.

Building boards might assist alleviate a few of that stress. My constructing’s discussion board is run by a property administration software program firm known as BuildingHyperlink. It was based in 1999 and launched the bulletin board function a few 12 months later as a method to foster neighborhood and facilitate communication, says Zachary Kestenbaum, BuildingHyperlink’s CEO.

Today, Kestenbaum is seeing greater than 2,500 posts every week associated to furnishings and residential furnishings, and an extra 2,000 posts for different gadgets like train gear, bikes, electronics, and clothes—and the development extends far past New York City. He says residents in some 3,000 buildings are utilizing the bulletin board to put up about furnishings, from San Diego and Pittsburgh to Toronto and Sydney.

For some time, Craigslist was the one large participant within the secondhand furnishings market, however over the previous few years a slew of furnishings startups, from Chairish to Apartment Therapy to Kaiyo, have jumped on the bandwagon. Meanwhile, an growing variety of corporations from Ikea to Sabai have launched buyback applications for purchasers seeking to promote their previous Billy bookcase or purchase a refurbished couch. The enterprise has turn into so profitable that by 2025, the furnishings resale market is anticipated to hit $16.6 billion, a 70% enhance from 2018.

By offering an alternative choice to low cost disposable gadgets, these corporations are taking furnishings out of the waste stream, however the transport conundrum stays. In 2019, carbon emissions from transport furnishings made up 3% of whole greenhouse gasoline emissions that 12 months. By comparability, after I noticed that my upstairs neighbor was freely giving his desk chair, all I needed to do was trip an elevator to get it. This saved me as much as 72 kilograms of CO2 associated to creating and transport a chair—or the equal of 179 miles pushed by a gas-powered automotive.

And no, I can’t know if every bit of furnishings I’ve acquired from my constructing is product of sustainably sourced wooden. But I do know I get to decide on what goes in my dwelling—and it actually doesn’t have to journey 30,000 miles to get right here.

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