What Is Fast Furniture?

The meaning of “fast furniture” changes as manufacturers pursue better and more sustainable practices. If you are concerned about sustainability and how your home furnishing choices affect it, you should know what fast furniture is and be familiar with its alternatives. Here is an overview of fast furniture, along with a look at its impacts and some alternative options.

Fast furniture defined

Fast furniture includes home furnishings that are inexpensive, fashionable and easy to break down for disposal. It is designed as a short-term fix, and not built for longevity. It became a trend as people relocated, downsized and upgraded to the latest trends.

Consumers of fast furniture prefer switching out their furnishings more frequently as styles change or need to offset housing costs with lower-cost chairs, couches and beds. Many people admire it for its convenience.

However, just like with its clothing counterpart, fast fashion, manufacturers produce fast furniture quickly, sell it cheaply and never expect it to last more than a few years. The result is environmental impacts that threaten long-term consequences.

Concerns and impacts

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans dispose of over 12 million tons of home furnishings each year. Of that 12 million, 9 million tons of glass, fabric, metal, leather and other recyclable materials end up at the dump. Unfortunately, since fast furniture is not designed to last, it frequently fills landfills.

Since the 1960s, furniture waste has increased almost five times. Fast furniture’s popularity corresponds with this increase.

There is some good news, though. Leaders in fast furniture look to reduce their impact on landfills. The original leader of fast furniture, IKEA, now offers disassembly instructions if furniture must be moved to a new home or storage. By 2030, it seeks to become a circular company where every product created can be repaired, recycled, reused or sustainably upgraded.

Another fast furniture retailer, Pottery Barn, also seeks better sustainability. Their program, Pottery Barn Renewal, commits to 75 percent landfill diversion by offering recycling and repair services.

However, even with these efforts, there remains some danger with fast furniture. Their fabrics often contain formaldehyde, neurotoxins, carcinogens and heavy metals. The foam used to stuff cushions contains the same toxins. These toxins build up and cause sick building syndrome, contributing to health conditions.

There are no good solutions if you buy fast furniture. Even if you intend to repair and use it for years, you still have to deal with substandard quality and possible toxin exposure.

But there is another, better way. If you purchase high-quality, durable furniture, you do not have to worry about disposal issues or toxins. Sure, you will have to worry about moving larger furniture if you find a new home. However, disposing of and replacing furniture also costs time and money. Rather than dispose of the furniture, you can move it to your new home. You can sell it on consignment or get it reupholstered when you are tired of it.

Now that you know what fast furniture is and better understand its impacts, perhaps you are ready for an alternative. Orangeburg Furniture Exchange sells high-quality home furnishings for dining, living and sleeping. Visit us today and see what we have to offer.