How and why to dispose of your office furniture responsibly
We are turning into an increasingly wasteful society. In the US alone, the EPA has estimated that only around
30% of waste gets recycled; the rest gets tossed into landfills across the
country. That’s around 164 million tonnes of pure waste every single year. In
the UK, meanwhile, waste from households and industry alike continues to grow
at a rate of 3% per year. A significant amount of all that waste is made up of unused office furniture. Indeed, 8.5 million tonnes of office furniture ends up in
US landfills annually.
How did we get so wasteful?
Whilst there has been a push, on the
whole. to make businesses ‘go green’ in recent years, there is still a lot of
work to be done when it comes to office furniture. An average cubicle contains
anywhere between 300 to 700 pounds of waste.
With more open-plan offices now
common, this is becoming less and less of a problem, but there are still office
chairs to consider, each of which contains dozens of different chemicals and
materials, all of which will breakdown in landfill and damage the environment.
An obvious change would be to make the furniture more environmentally sound it
the first place, but there are also smaller steps we could all be taking to
help the cause.
Indeed, if you’ve recently decided to refurbish your office, there are several other options you could consider rather
than simply hiring someone to cart your old furniture away and toss it into a
hole that slowly pollutes the earth.
What can we do?
Sell it – “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” as the old
saying goes. The same is probably true of your office furniture. Just because
you no longer have any use for it, that doesn’t necessarily mean someone else
won’t. There are entire sections on eBay dedicated to office furniture and if you fail to shift it online, there is always the
old fashioned way of advertising it either on a site such as Gumtree or the
local paper. You might be surprised how much revenue you could generate and
that is revenue that can be pumped right back into the business!
Find it a new home – If you don’t think you’ll be able to sell your office furniture, the first step you should take is to ask around other
offices if they might require some furniture. Start-ups particularly can probably
use all the free stuff they can get their hands on. If that fails, also your
family and friends. Otherwise, there are lots of charities (The British Heart
Foundation, for example) that will be willing to take it off your hands. Or, if
you don’t mind the idea of a complete stranger taking your old furniture away
for free. Freecycle is always there as a final option.
Recycle it – If you can’t find a new home for your furniture then
there are a range of clearance companies operating throughout the UK that would
be happy to pick up the kind of items that many might deem ‘inconvenient’ for
conventional recycling purposes and will make sure that any parts that are able
to be recycled, are done so. First
Mile clearance is a company that
offers a 24-hour collection with free on-site quotes in London.
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