Benefits of recycling – furniture pickup emoji gas station

##

Materials like wood, fabric, foam, and metals can be reused and recycled many times before they lose utility. Yet these materials often find their way into landfills in the form of furniture and mattresses and other large household items. In that sense, these materials are only used a couple of times before they are discarded. Recycling these items help keep these materials in use, extending their value beyond regular means. Provide raw resources to local manufacturers.

Local manufacturers in Metro Vancouver often use these recycled materials to create new products. Metro Vancouver boasts a local economy of talented makers, industrial designers, and startups who use these reclaimed materials for the projects.

Damaged wood from mattress boards can be repurposed into tables, signage, and more. Cushions from sofas can be reused as pet beds and theatre props. Plastics recycling companies are able to take waste and turn them into recycled materials, while wood scraps can be turned into new products. Recycled materials are raw resources suitable for a variety of products. Feel better about our disposal choices.

In British Columbia, we should be proud about the way we’re reusing and recycling. After PEI, we are the second province that have reduced our waste disposal the most. The average BC’er disposed 569 kg of waste in 2012, and just four years later, the average BC disposed 472 kg per year ( Environmental Reporting BC, 2018).

With the push for zero waste and plastic free, cities in BC have also supported zero waste strategies, and environmentally sustainable programs and companies. The City of Vancouver is the first city in the world to release a comprehensive Zero Waste Strategy plan, aimed to reduce single use items, like plastic straws, coffee cups, and styrofoam take out boxes. Vancouver also, will be the home to NADA Grocery, the first package-free grocery store in BC. One explanation for this shift is due to our desire to feel better about our consumption and disposal habits. Conserve natural resources such as timber, minerals, and water.

Mattresses and furniture frames are often made from wood or metal. The padding inside for cushions is made of foam or polyester fiberfill wrap. Sofa covers can be synthetic, natural, or blended fabric. Some of them are finished with a protective anti-stain coating. Twine, tacks, muslin, springs. A mattress or sofa is assembled over a long period of time, taking anywhere from 300 to 600 hours of labor to make traditionally.

Factories have reduced the time and resources required to make a mattress or sofa, but the end result is the same. Mattresses and furniture carry lots of valuable materials that can be reused. Fabric, metals, and wood, all come from natural resources or are manufactured out of nonrenewable resources. By dumping mattresses and furniture instead of recycling, these resources – lumber to make wooden frames, cotton to make fabric, water to process, metal from mining – are essentially wasted ( How Products Are Made, 2018). Prevent pollution by reducing the need for raw materials.

Like above, the extraction, processing, and transportation of these raw materials (lumber, metal, fabric) all cause pollution in one way or another. From extracting minerals for metal springs, to processing lumber for headboards and frames, to transporting cotton, wool, or making synthetic fibers, mattress components travel long distances before they arrive at a retail shop. This is the same for furniture like sofas and couches: raw materials all are shipped to manufacturing facilities where these furniture are made, and then shipped to a retail store. By reducing the need to buy new mattresses and furniture, especially if you can recycle it or reuse it, can prevent further pollution caused by raw materials. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

When trash is deposited in landfills, they degrade over time and release harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses. Even though landfills are designed, and located, to reduce environmental and social impacts, these chemicals end up seeping into our soils. The chemicals end up in our water and plants, contaminating the environment around us ( ECCC, 2018).

Other types of solid waste can be incinerated. Incineration can release toxic chemicals into the air, like mercury, which is caused by coal-fired power generation and waste incineration. Thankfully, Canadian emissions of these kinds have decreased over 90% since the 2000s ( CCME, 2014). Still, we can still do a lot more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by our waste.