The Devastating Environmental Impact of Furniture


The Environmental Impact of Furniture: The Low-Down

Like it or not, we live in a disposable society. We enjoy stylish furniture that is built to be discarded after only a few years of use. We are constantly replacing our kitchens, bathrooms, dorm rooms, couches, and ottomans with new ones that are designed to meet the latest trends. Our fast-paced lifestyles have made us addicted to the cycle of consumption without ever considering the consequences this has had on the environment. As you will find out below, these consequences are more broad than most people realize.

What Is the Environmental Impact of Furniture?

In short, it is a very real problem that is causing a negative impact on our health and the health of the planet. Because furniture made from wood products has been treated with preservatives and glues, toxic chemicals have entered our waterways through wastewater. Additionally, these chemicals have also entered the food chain as water pollution has rendered fish unfit to eat. Not only has this contaminated our bodies, it has also harmed plant life as well as marine life. For example, a 2011 study in Wisconsin linked an alga bloom known as the 'Green Blob' to the decline of frogs and salamanders in nearby lakes. In addition, this pollution is linked to the decline of the Chesapeake Bay's crab population.

Why Are We Using So Many Wood Products?

The answer here is because wood products are cheap and they are easily recycled. This has led to a global furniture industry that has been overproduction in order to meet demand. Because these products have an average life cycle of two to five years, they have all been thrown away after just a few short years in use. This has created an endless stream of waste that has overwhelmed landfills and incinerators across the country. The short life cycle of these products has also prompted manufacturers to increase production in order to meet demand, which has created a threat to our environment. 

How Have the Environmental Consequences Changed Over Time?

What you are about to read below is important because it represents the long-term consequences of the issue. These negative impacts have increased over time because our society spends an increasing amount of money on furniture without considering its impact on the environment. While it may be true that we will have to reconsider our living space, once we do so it will have a positive impact on both our health and that of the planet.

Before the Industrial Revolution

Over time, furniture has become more and more common in all aspects of our lives. The only aspect that hasn't changed is that furniture still uses natural resources, such as wood. Throughout history, this was because wood was plentiful and used by almost every culture to build their homes for shelter and to store food. This also meant that it had no negative impact on the environment due to its low cost. This is because there were few sources of pollution because there weren't many factories or other industry centers. Because the resource was so abundant, consumers didn't have to think about where their furniture came from or if it contained harmful chemicals.

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