Give second-hand furniture a home and help save the planet

The old adage, “They don’t make them like they used to” really applies to furniture. Scandi flat-pack Ikea maestros should be rewarded for their services to economic life, but there may come a time for the finer things in life instead.

From ’70s globe humidors to ’80s leather La-Z-Boys, vintage furniture packs a punch. And in a world where limited resources require a shift to a more sustainable way of life, the circular economy is on the rise.

If you’re thinking of going from pre-packaged to pre-loved, here are some tips for making the right purchases.

Charity shops

Buying second-hand furniture from charity shops is not only a sustainable way to circulate goods; it also benefits a charitable cause. And don’t expect to be faced with a jumble of chipped and broken castoffs.

Crisis, the homeless charity with stores around the world and an online store, uses profits to train and employ homeless people to recycle and restore parts to a high standard. In addition to providing a job opportunity, the program helps improve physical and mental health. Expect to find G Plan chests of drawers, Nathan dining tables and Ercol cabinets. Prices are reasonable for the parts and quality of craftsmanship and every penny is well spent. To find your nearest store, go to crisis.org.uk or shop online at ebay.co.uk/usr/crisisuk.

Keeping with a charity theme, if you want to get rid of furniture to make way for new purchases, the British Heart Foundation can organize free collections. Visit bhf.org.uk.

Hunt on eBay

The world’s favorite online store is still one of the best places to find cheap furniture. Sifting through what’s available can be overwhelming, so it’s best to iron out some details first. Decide on particular brands or design periods such as art deco, mid-century or contemporary will help narrow down the options.

Admittedly, coins are difficult to authenticate, but do some research and have a few questions ready to ask the seller. It’s also worth checking out past reviews on their profile.

Other important considerations include item measurements and delivery distance. Most buyers will either have to collect the item themselves or arrange for a courier, so factor this into your budget. Try Shiply (shiply.com) for quotes.

Pick up gifts

Believe it or not, not everyone is looking to make money. Whether it’s a retired couple in a hurry to downsize or a family running out of space, some people are desperate to get rid of their furniture. In fact, you’re doing them a favor by getting it back and giving them a new home. Remember that fly tipping in the UK is illegal.

A few useful websites advertise free items. Preloved (preloved.co.uk) offers an eclectic range of products. During our visit, we found a moses basket and an art deco walnut veneer cabinet up for grabs alongside (oddly) 12 trash bags of manure. Responding to ads requires an annual fee of £5.

A more sophisticated site, the popular non-profit site Freecycle (freecycle.org) allows location-based searches further reducing the carbon footprint by not needing to travel as far. Membership is free and the site is carefully monitored.

About Oscar L. Smith

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