From 5th – 11th March it will be Reuse Week in Devon, UK. In this post Catherine Causley, Reuse Project Officer at Devon County Council, shares her reflections on the links between wellbeing and reuse.
When I was invited to write this article I didn’t automatically see the link between reuse and wellbeing; yes reuse fits in well with my environmental principles, but does it also link with wellbeing? Upon reflection, however, I realised there are lots of links – here are my top five:
1. Lasting furniture and lasting relationships!
The Swedish furniture store IKEA has been called a ‘relationship death trap’ and a comedian even jokingly built a relationship saving station in the store. Anyone who has shopped in one of their mammoth shops with the one way system and the overwhelming choice can likely relate to this. My partner and I did an IKEA shop with a toddler once; that was a mistake and not a very fun experience!
One of things I really like about pre-loved furniture is that it involves no assembly. I have very limited DIY skills and having had my share of low-cost furniture I can now appreciate a well-made quality piece of furniture that I can get second hand. I own lots of older furniture and the beauty of the craftsmanship and quality of the materials shines through. Stuff doesn’t wobble and I don’t worry about the effects of the hazardous chemical glues and materials used in the manufacturing process.
2. Second hand shopping saves me money
Money can only be spent once and like many people we are on a limited budget and, boy, are children expensive. So by purchasing second hand, pre-loved furniture we are able to fill our home with lovely and unique pieces without breaking the bank. This leaves us with money for the important things in life, such as fun activities and experiences with our children.
3. Delayed gratification
With second hand furniture you can’t just pop out and pick up everything you need in one go. Buying the right thing can take time. I use online selling sites, multiple visits to local charity shops and I also scour freecycle. There isn’t the hit of the instant purchase: I might spend hours looking for the right item, checking the quality and researching the brand. Then when I get it, I will clean it, feed the wood, touch up minor scratches and fix any wobbly joints or hinges. This sounds like a lot of work but to me it is all part of the fun. It’s like booking a holiday: most of the fun comes in the planning.
4. My house tells a story
My house doesn’t look perfect. I actually really struggle with the concept of perfection, as I think it leads to unrealistic expectations and disappointment. All my furniture might not match, it might not be new and shiny out of the box; but it tells the story of how it has been loved and nurtured. If furniture could talk I am sure it would tell great stories.
5. Caring for the planet
By purchasing second hand furniture I am supporting charity, I am diverting useable items from waste disposal and I am helping people to part with items they no longer need. This type of furniture has a small carbon footprint, as it will have only travelled a limited distance to my house as opposed from being made overseas and shipped here. Some of the furniture in my house is 50 years old, and with love and care it will last. By sourcing my furniture this way I’m lowering my impact on the planet, and in the long term a healthier planet is good for everyone’s wellbeing.
To find out more about Reuse Week please visit: https://www.recycledevon.org/reuse-week