This month I’m back with another article on how to reduce waste in your house, this time I’ll discuss the living room. This article will be a bit different from the previous two articles about the kitchen and the bathroom. It’s not so much about reducing direct waste like packaging e.g. but more about switching to second hand things instead of buying new.
If you’re moving into a new home, you often need new furniture. Before you head to the nearest furniture store, take a moment to reflect. Do you need new furniture or can you also buy it second-hand? You can find second-hand furniture at places like thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, Marktplaats and many other locations or websites. Or ask friends and family if they have leftover furniture that you can have. It may be a bit harder to find exactly what you want, but the chances are that you might end up with something unique. And, it’s often a lot cheaper than buying new furniture.
If you’re creative or a bit handy, you could also try to upcycle old furniture by painting it a different colour, replacing outdated handles or whatever you feel like. There are plenty of ideas to be found online.
In case you’d rather buy new furniture, try looking for something of quality or buy from more conscious brands instead. It will last longer, meaning that it takes less time to end up in the trash. Also try looking for something that you will still love in 5, 10 or 15 years.
Finally, if you’re looking for new furniture, but you still have the old furniture, try to sell it online or bring it to a thrift store nearby. Of course this is only if the furniture is not broken or something. Someone else might really like the furniture you once loved as well.
The living room is also the place for doing hobbies. One of my hobbies is reading and before I started consciously thinking about my impact I would hoard books and create piles of to-be-read books. I’m sure some of you might relate. Most of these books would remain unread for a long time until eventually I was not at all interested in them anymore. So that was a waste of space, money and paper. Something needed to change. I found two things that helped.
The first was going to libraries and lending books there. Important note here: don’t lend the maximum amount of books. You’re not going to read them all within the lending time and it will just cost you more money paying the fees of being late. Instead, aim for two or three books. Of course it depends on your reading speed, the amount of free time you have and the thickness of the books. It might take some time to figure out how much you can actually read within the lending time, but at least two or three books are not as overwhelming as eight…
The second thing was lending books from mini-libraries. These are very small libraries that pop up in neighbourhoods, stations, shopping malls, e.g. Chances are that there is one near you as well! The idea of these mini-libraries is that you take one book and replace it with one of your own. Or you could lend a book and return it after you’ve finished it. The fun thing about these mini-libraries is that you start reading books you wouldn’t think of buying or lending in the library. It’s quite fun to discover new genres or topics this way! And, there is no time before which you have to return a book.
Furthermore, you are probably well aware that study books are very expensive. Luckily there are many places where you can buy second hand books like thrift stores or online. But you could also trade your own study books for others at for example Boekshare.
Living rooms are also typically a place where you can place plants. There are multiple ways to reduce waste related to plants.
First of all, you can reuse the plastic containers that your bought plants come in. They are great to use inside of decorative plant pots. Speaking of decorative plant pots, you could buy recycled plastic pots by i.e. Elho in your local garden centre. You could also search for decorative plant pots in thrift stores.
Secondly, it is not always necessary to buy new plants. In fact, the house plant industry is not that sustainable. House plants require a lot of water and energy, are typically imported and are often sprayed with pesticides, see these articles by Tesse and Michelle for more information. Most plants can be propagated so that’s something you can try. Ask your plant friend to trade propagations! Like mini book libraries, there are also mini plant propagation libraries. You can bring your own little propagation there and trade it for another one.
There are of course many more things you could do in the living room, but the main message of this article is: try to buy second-hand instead of buying new. You could apply this to many other things you could do in the living room, or elsewhere of course.