On Wednesday 25 September, Helen from the Furniture Poverty Hub is working with the Tree of Life Centre to promote furniture reuse and it is a good start to the day as the civic centre in Wythenshawe have given them a shop free of charge to run this activity. They have displayed some donated furniture in the shop window and the aim is to have a conversation about the links between reusing furniture and the climate.
What has our consumer-led, throw-away society got to do with the climate emergency?
A great deal, as it happens.
For example, the making of a new 3-seater sofa releases, on average, 70 kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
By reusing rather than buying new and in turn, disposing of 1 tonne of sofas, we could prevent 1.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Multiply this by the 10 million items of furniture including sofas, beds, wardrobes, as well as electrical appliances and other furniture items we throw away each year in the UK, then the speed with which we retain, re-use and repair household goods becomes ever more urgent.
The voluntary sector is at the heart of furniture reuse. Hundreds of charities and social enterprises across the UK intercept the reusable furniture to provide affordable, essential goods to low income households. These organisations, like the Tree of Life and Wesley Community Furniture, are the ethical alternatives to the likes of Brighthouse; they also limit the use of payday lenders and loan sharks for credit, to buy household essentials. and Helen has been working with organisations for over two years to help them with this. Helen's advice is:
1. Don’t cut off the fire safety label on your current sofa as it can't be reused
2. Visit furniturepovertyhub.org.uk and search for a local organisation across Greater Manchester who could reuse your furniture. They may collect free of charge
3. If you do get rid of furniture, ask the person or organisation how they will be disposing of it. Dumping furniture affects the environment too!
Back to the shop and people have the opportunity to sit on the sofas and have had a chat. The most frequent questions are about the link between furniture reuse and the climate. The sign on the sofa reads 'You can find CO2 down the back of the sofa'. Helen explains that the aim is to raise awareness and relate the climate emergency to changes that people can make themselves. She said, "If you are buying new, buy well and look after it. Ask yourself - Do I need to get rid of something? Donate your unwanted furniture to a local charity and help save the climate".
For more information: www.furniturepovertyhub.org.uk or contact Helen Middleton: email@example.com or 07791 465271
Focusing their work on Greater Manchester, the Furniture Poverty Hub promotes the re-use of furniture and other household goods whilst simultaneously helping low income households to alleviate debt and poverty. They do this by raising awareness about furniture re-use; facilitating the channels with which re-use can be increased (i.e. between local charities and local authorities, housing associations and the private sector); and providing business development and capacity building support to existing charities, social enterprises and new start-ups.