Today’s blog has been contributed by Maya Vertigans who runs the eco Virtual Assistant Service, Planner Bee VA Services. Maya specialises in supporting sustainable and ethical businesses and provides a range of Virtual Assistant services including social media management, copywriting and administration.
Packaging is a big challenge for furniture artists, particularly sourcing packaging that is sustainable and that also protects the furniture during transportation.
Whether you are thinking about ordering a piece of furniture and want to understand more about the environmental implications of the packaging or you are a furniture artist looking to incorporate sustainable practices into your business, this article will help you on your journey. Ensuring that your furniture packaging does not cost the earth.
How sustainable is your furniture?
Before we dive straight into a sustainable approach to furniture packaging and how to ensure your furniture packaging does not cost the earth, I wanted to briefly talk about the furniture itself.
In the UK a shocking 22 million pieces of furniture are thrown away every year, with most of this being sent to landfill. One way to reduce this wastage and help the environment is to buy refinished furniture, rather than brand new furniture.
There is 1000 times more carbon required to make a new piece of furniture compared with refinished furniture. Additionally, fewer resources are needed as the process is focused on improving and maintaining the existing materials, to make them last longer, instead of taking more natural resources to make a new piece of furniture.
Refinished furniture can also be timeless, elegant and high quality, meaning that refinished furniture is both a stylish and sustainable addition to your home.
A sustainable approach to furniture packaging
Where do you start when it comes to packaging big bulky items like furniture?
Bubble wrap is one option which has traditionally been popular because it is a low-cost way to keep large items safe and secure in transit. But as a form of single-use plastic, bubble wrap can take anywhere between 10 and 1000 years to decompose in landfill. Conversely, by using reusable packaging for furniture, you can reduce up to 60% of carbon dioxide emissions. It isn’t just your choice of furniture that can impact the environment, your packaging choices and what you do with the packaging as a customer can also have a big environmental impact.
How to ensure your furniture packaging does not cost the earth...
One of the best ways to ensure your furniture packaging does not cost the earth is to reuse the packaging. Moving blankets and cardboard are two such reusable furniture packaging options and this is also how Liz Clarkson Interiors packages her furniture.
How to reuse moving blankets used for furniture packaging
Moving blankets are a fantastic sustainable alternative to bubble wrap as they provide padding for your refinished furniture and can also be reused. There are a couple of options for reusing moving blankets that have been used as furniture packaging. One option is to cut up the blanket to create cloths for cleaning. Alternatively, your moving blanket packaging can also be reused as stuffing for pillows or cushions.
How to reuse cardboard used for furniture packaging
Cardboard is another sustainable furniture packaging option which can be used to provide extra protection for your furniture and is handy because it can easily slide between parts of the furniture such as drawers. When it comes to reusing the cardboard that has been used for furniture packaging, the options are endless. Liz reuses any cardboard she receives to line and insulate the shed that her rabbits live in.
Zero Waste Week suggest that cardboard can be reused for compost: “Either shred and add as a valuable ‘brown’ (you need 50/50 mix of green (wet) and brown (dry) ingredients by VOLUME for healthy compost) or layer over the top in winter to add as an insulator – a warm compost heap works more efficiently.” Another option for reusing cardboard is to get creative and use the cardboard for arts and crafts – this can be a great activity to do with kids.
Furniture packaging with a sustainable focus
The big bulky and fragile nature of furniture means that packaging to ensure that the furniture is not damaged in transit can always be a challenge, particularly when you are looking for sustainable packaging to match the sustainable ethos of your refinished furniture. This article has rounded up my tips and advice for a sustainable approach to furniture packaging and how to ensure that your furniture packaging does not cost the earth.
If you are a furniture artist looking to bring ethical practices into your business, for sustainability ideas and inspiration, you can download my small business sustainability checklist here.
Liz Clarkson interiors commitment to sustainability...
Wherever possible I try to make good decisions about my sourcing and delivery, use environmentally friendly products and sustainable forms of packages.
I’m also committed to offsetting CO2 emissions created by my business by planting a tree in the heart of National Trust woodland for every order I take.
For more information take a look at my sustainability values. If you have some great tips to share, I’d love you to leave a comment!