Last Thursday was Earth Day – in fact, April is Earth Month. Our environmental impact is something I spend quite a lot of time thinking about – and it’s easy to become disheartened by the state of things. Much like Women’s Day last month, there is a sometimes a certain feeling of ‘how can this still be an issue?’, and a sense of ‘how can my tiny actions count if the big systems are still against us?’.
These are legitimate feelings. But they’re not a reason to do nothing. So, with that in mind, I reminded myself of the things I have done, the progress I have made, in the hopes it will spur me on to do more!
By switching to renewable energy a few years ago, we know that every light bulb, staple gun and electric sander at happy HQ is powered by either sun, wind or water. And of course, when you get right down to it, the very nature of The Happy Chair Company is eco friendly – reducing the amount of furniture going into landfill, reusing those existing beautiful pieces, minimising the consumption of newly produced stuff. Then there’s the way we actually work on those rescued pieces of furniture – always with sandpaper and elbow grease over harsh chemicals (no Nitromors here). We also try to be aware of our paint usage – over half of our painted items are created with low VOC paints.
When it comes to upholstered pieces, we try to use as much deadstock fabric as we can – again, reducing the amount of material headed for landfill, and also saving gallons and gallons of water, by not using newly produced fabric – Amo Threads, a website which specialises in selling deadstock fabric, has a handy little water saving calculator. We save on average 890 gallons of water per chair when we use deadstock fabric!
The most difficult thing to dispose of is old sofa or chair foam – so if anyone out there has any tips on that, I’d love to hear from you!
And then, there’s going plastic free – it’s a big trend, but also a long game. Throwing out all the plastic you currently have is not only wasteful (where’s it going to go?) but also expensive – replacing everything all at once is just not an economic option for most people, and especially not a micro business like mine. Instead, as things run out and need replacing, I’m making a conscious effort to use that opportunity to switch to a more environmentally friendly option. Take bubble wrap, for instance – we’ve recently made the switch to paper wrap (a bit like corrugated card), which is both fully recycled and fully recyclable. And I’m happy to report, so far, so good! Thanks to the wrap and our careful couriers, all your lovely pieces are still arriving with you in perfect condition.
At the moment, we still use plastic tape to hold all the paper wrap in place, because I still have rolls of it to use up. But when they’re gone, I’ll be searching out more eco minded alternatives, for sure. The long game, my friends.
We’ve also been able (through our partnership with Work for Good) to donate to environmental charities – this month it’s Cool Earth, who work with indigenous communities to find the best solutions to environmental issues.
There is of course always more to do on the green front. But doing the best you can with what you have is a great place to start.
For some green and eco inspiration, check out @sustainableish, @coolearthaction @intersectionalenvironmentalist and of course, @earthdaynetwork on Instagram! Oh, and for chairs and whatnot, us of course @thehappychair 😉
Have a great, green week,