By Ellen Prizeman
Over the last few years, we have all become much more aware of the effects that our purchases have on the planet. This can be seen in the increase in vegan lifestyles, the banning of plastic bags or even the rise in second-hand shopping. Each year since 2018 there has been a 404% increase in pre-loved sales. As a society we are waking up but there is still a long way to go.
One pandemic-induced habit that isn’t great for the planet is our growing obsession with redecorating and homeware. Fast homeware to be exact. Redecorating has become much more popular since we’ve all been instructed to stay at home. Understandably, we want to update those boring four walls that we’ve been stuck staring at for so long.
The Ultimate Guide To Creating A Sustainable Home
Fast homeware is just as bad as fast fashion
Unfortunately, whether you’ve decided repaint your bedroom or buy some new aesthetic ornaments for the living room, all of these seemingly innocent activities have much larger consequences if we do not approach them correctly.
Much like how fast fashion depletes natural resources, pollutes rivers and harms underpaid factory workers, fast homeware does the same.
Fast homeware and impulse buying go hand in hand. Impulse buying doesn’t allow us any time to evaluate the homeware items we pick up on a whim in store or online. So, it should be noted now that a lot of these items cannot be recycled. Fast interior items are frequently made from man-made synthetic materials that eventually end up in landfill and can’t biodegrade.
Why do so many of us fall into the trap of buying fast homeware, I hear you ask?
Well, many of us succumb to this way of shopping because buying new decor is another way to feel more comfortable in an uncomfortable world. The outside world is so unpredictable it only makes sense that we want to create our own safe havens that we can enjoy spending time in. New furnishings offer us the same quick feel-good fix that fashion can, especially when we’re offered free next day delivery and 20% off our order.
With many of us working from home, we also have more opportunities to glance down at our phones and wander onto social media apps like Instagram and Pinterest. These platforms are packed full of daily decor ‘inspo’ and deals which can be hard to say no to.
We are practically hit with lifestyle inspiration everywhere we scroll which ultimately make us feel like our homes need a constant refresh. Essentially these types of online spaces have made us more design-conscious while simultaneously amplifying unsustainable trends.
There are pros and cons of having constant access to lifestyle imagery
The downside is that we can start to feel some kind of pressure to have our lives ‘Instagram ready’ at all times. However, life isn’t like that and it’s practically unattainable. We can also start to lose our own sense of style and fall into the trap of just following trends and trends don’t last forever.
Yves Saint Laurent once said, “fashions fade, style is eternal.”
Fast homeware lacks individualism and do we really want our homes to look like everyone else’s?
It’s not all bad news, the upside of this situation is that there is more opportunity to discover small and exciting brands that we may never have been aware of otherwise. Independent, sustainable brands now have the chance to reach an international audience which is pretty great. Supporting small creatives and their businesses not only means so much more to them than shopping at a big brand but it also allows us to create a space that represents us and our interests.
How to use fast homeware to our advantage
Fast homeware isn’t going to disappear overnight, even if we want it to. And yes, you could unfollow all of those decor inspiration accounts but where’s the fun in that? So, what we can do is use these brands and accounts solely for ideas. Avoid actually buying from then. We can source similar items from second-hand shops or smaller ethical businesses that align with our values. It might take longer to find your perfect item when you shop ‘slow homeware’ but it’ll be worth it when your friends ask where you got your cool new lamp from and you get to proclaim that, “it’s vintage.”
In all seriousness, allow decorating to become a slow process of collecting items that last and truly make you happy. This is when our personalities will shine through and make our homes feel unique and special.
It’s time we embrace our differences and have fun with our homes. Eventually, we’ll become our own source of inspiration and wonder why we ever relied on fad trends.
Shop second-hand or shop small
Some great options for shopping small and sustainable include Beni Rugs who produce made to order, handmade rugs in Morocco. Aerende Interiors is also another great brand who have won the Sustainable Homeware Brand Of The Year award. Crafted in the UK by people facing barriers to employment, Aerende showcases wonderful, independent talent.
Creating A Sustainable Home
What else can we do?
Whatever we’re buying, and wherever we’re buying it from, it’s important to consider an item’s longevity, provenance and its afterlife. Of course, we shouldn’t accept that it’s solely the consumers responsibility to create change but we can play a part in what brands we choose to support with where we spend our money. Jane Goodall said it best when she stated that, “Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”
If you are looking to update your home and are unsure of where to start, check out our Ultimate Guide To Creating A Sustainable Home. This guide discusses everything from our favourite ethical brands to up-cycling what you already own. Don’t worry, it’s not about achieving perfection straight away but doing what we can to protect our planet and limit any negative impacts.