Fast-decor, also known as fast furniture, refers to affordable, trendy decorative items and furniture designed to meet the constantly changing demands of consumers. These products are often made from unsustainable materials, leading to environmental pollution and the waste of natural resources.

Furniture discarded with trash on the Upper East Side in New York, USA. (Photo: Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet)

In France, the period from 2017 to 2022 witnessed a boom in fast-decor. During this time, the amount of furniture and decorative items sold increased by up to 88%. Similar to fast fashion, the business model of fast-decor involves mass production and frequent changes in designs according to themes (Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day on February 14, etc.) to stimulate consumer purchasing demand.

According to The New York Times, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans bought a large amount of furniture, with sales of items such as tables and chairs increasing by over 4 billion USD from 2019 to 2021. Many of these items are predicted to be discarded and not last beyond this decade.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the volume of solid waste has grown by 450% since 1960, with Americans discarding over 12 million tons of furniture each year. Ashlee Piper, a sustainability expert, states, “This poses a significant challenge in terms of space and the current production methods of fast furniture because, in addition to wood and metal, they often use other materials that are not biodegradable.”

This leads to several negative consequences for the environment:

  • Waste of resources: The two most common materials used are wood and plastic. Continuous production of furniture means unsustainable logging from forests and the extraction of plastic from petroleum, which damages nature.
  • Environmental pollution: Currently, up to 1.3 million tons of furniture waste is released into the environment, with nearly half of it not being recycled or reused. Additionally, chemicals used in the production process also harm the environment.

So, what measures can be taken to mitigate this issue?

  • Support sustainable furniture brands: Use environmentally friendly materials and adhere to standard production processes.
  • Extend the lifespan of furniture: Repair or reuse them instead of discarding them.

Be a wise consumer: Avoid overconsumption or buying unnecessary items!

Sources: euronews.green, The New York Times

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