Second hand, not second best

Second hand, not second best

Every year in the UK we throw out c. 22 million pieces of furniture, totalling 1.6m tonnes. Most of this is buried in landfill or burnt in an incinerator.

Today we are generally all trying to lead increasingly conscious and sustainable lives, but there often remains a disconnect when it comes to buying furniture. Why is this?

As part of a 2021 consumer survey, participants were asked to list the most important considerations when purchasing new furniture. Environmental Reasons came out as least important (The Green Interior – Reusing Furniture for a Sustainable Future, Scott, 2021). Even though this group all demonstrated strong feelings about leading a sustainable lifestyle, the most important considerations when buying new furniture were design, functionality and convenience. The carbon footprint or materials used were also of less importance, however these details can often be difficult to come by - how many of us have been surprised that our supposedly UK made item has a 13 week lead time?

Many of us have some second-hand furniture at home. The thrill is often in the chase: hunting for exactly what we need through auction houses and flea markets. But the majority (75.2% of the Green Interior survey respondents) still always buy new furniture. The most commonly cited reasons were quality assurance and inconvenience.

Quality assurance, or lack thereof, is an oft-cited reason not to buy second hand.

But perhaps there can be some confusion between condition and quality. Signs of previous use do not always equal bad production. Likewise, just because an item is new does not mean that it has been well made.

Inconvenience is another major theme. You find something online that you like the look of, but it’s 300 miles away in a regional auction house, who produce limited, grainy photos and a vague (at best) condition report. You buy it in the sale, having forgotten to add the 30% Buyers’ Premium, then are told you have to organise shipping within 5 days or you’ll be charged for storage. After spending a small fortune on last minute shipping it arrives, the drawers are sticking or the leg wobbles worryingly and there is no way that you can return it.

Suddenly finding a trusted retailer of new furniture starts to look significantly easier and (after all the unseen extras) looks like relatively good value – no surprises, reasonable shipping to your door at a day of your choosing, job done.

What if...

But what if there was an easier way to buy quality-assured second hand furniture?

We should all be able to make sustainable choices about how we furnish our homes, for both style and comfort, without compromising on integrity.

PearTree was founded with a simple ambition: to make the sourcing of truly sustainable, restored furniture easy. Our collection is both highly convenient, as everything we have for sale is ready to go, and quality assured - our buyback scheme allows you to trade-in your pre-loved PearTree items in the future.

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