By Hibah Khan|
February 16, 2022|
8 min read
As ‘fast homewares’ trends seem to be taking over the mainstream interiors market, is it time to consider a more conscious approach to our homes? The concept of slow homewares prioritises the planet seeking an emphasis on ethically made, long lasting and sustainably sourced products that will bring you joy for a lifetime.
The last few years have changed our relationship with our home environments. Spending more time than ever before stuck indoors, which brings the question, has covid amplified our need to make our homes sanctuaries? It seems this new found love of interior decoration has had the knock on effect of ‘fast homewares’ similar to fast fashion, we’re seeing mainstream retailers bring out new product ranges with an emphasis on the home living.
According to a 2021 survey by homeware retailer, MADE, 68% of UK adults shopped online for their home at least once a month during the Covid-19 pandemic. 19%, did so multiple times per week. People shopped so much for cheap, cheerful, trend-led homeware that the sector received a significant boost, with a 42% increase in homeware sales helping to kickstart the long road to retail recovery.
Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and Missguided all launched homeware lines within six months of each other at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, spotting an opportunity.
Fast homeware has normalised the constant tweaking, updating, and redesigning of living spaces in the same way that fast fashion has normalised posting a new outfit every day. Homeware hauls from the aforementioned fast fashion brands, became commonplace on Instagram and YouTube and on TikTok the #homedecor tag has garnered an astonishing 14.4 billion views.
Although small, as we start to see a slower approach to fashion, homewares will surely follow. The desire for a slower home is ultimately a longing for a more conscious approach to our daily life. Our home can form so much of our identity and with many of us becoming tired of a world that appears to be at odds with our own values, our interior spaces are the places where we can create a world that reflects what we care about most.
When we thoughtfully design our homes based on what we value and how we want to live, they begin to serve as more than just a roof over our heads, becoming a tangible way to reinforce what we believe in. To get started, the sustainability of any given product can be determined by evaluating how well it adheres to each of the areas mentioned below.. Will the product last you a lifetime, where was it made, what materials were used to create it and so on.
Taking a look at this product lifecycle we can understand a few things:
Buy Today, Keep Forever:
Sustainability begins with design, great design is founded on a reverence for quality craftsmanship and a thoughtful approach to functionality. It is for these reasons that well-designed products withstand the test of time and remain in our homes for an extended period. The longer a product is in use by a customer, the slower the life cycle is repeated, reducing the environmental impact.
Materials play a significant role in determining a product’s sustainability. The first is how the material is sourced, and the second is how it will decompose at the end of its life – as we know the use of recycled materials has resulted in numerous exciting advancements. This is fantastic news because repurposing waste to make new products helps to close the loop on the product life cycle and reduces waste.
Some of the most environmentally friendly furniture is made from recycled materials such as salvaged wood, recycled textiles, and repurposed materials such as old plastic bottles.. Furthermore, natural materials such as bamboo, rattan, and seagrass are excellent choices for home decor due to their biodegradable properties.
Production and Working Conditions:
When choosing homeware, it is worthwhile to consider the manufacturing processes, such as whether any harmful chemicals or dyes are used when manufacturing the product.. Many brands nowadays disclose their working conditions and where they are sourcing their materials from but always look out and check if brands are adhering to what they are saying. We also have a guide on ‘Ways To Spot If A Company Is Greenwashing’ which may be helpful in this instance.
Logistics and End of Life Management:
When we consider our carbon footprint, one of the first things that comes to mind is shipping. Remember to look out for your item’s origins, where it’s being produced from and then how it is being delivered to you. Here at Wearth, we offer carbon neutral delivery on all our products so you don’t need to worry about the implications of shipping. Alongside this, the longer a piece of furniture can be used, the more sustainable it is. If there comes a time when your products are in need of disposal, the most sustainable materials can be recycled or degrade naturally. However, we suggest always attempting giving your products a second life through selling or donating them. You may be surprised at who might want them and apps like market place and ebay are a great place to start.
Third Party Verification/ ‘B Corp certification’:
Certified B Corporations are legally required to “consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.” The B Lab maintains an extensive online directory where you can search for certified businesses in a variety of industries.
So now you know what to look out for, what are the best options for purchasing furniture and homewares?
Charity/ Thrift Stores:
Charity stores and thrifting can easily become one of your favourite pastimes for getting furniture. Barnardo’s and The British Heart Foundation have over 500 stores nationwide in the UK, meaning it’s never been easier to shop or donate through charity stores and many of them now offer online shopping due to the pandemic. In a survey conducted by The British Heart Foundation, “Just under a third of people (30%) have thrown away furniture, electrical items and homewares in good enough condition that they could have been re-used, sold or donated.”
You’d be surprised at what bargains you could find in charity stores from Le Creuset pots and pans to furniture that dates back to the early 1900’s. Millions more people, could benefit from the unique, high-quality, and affordable items available secondhand, and thousands of first-time buyers are missing out on the opportunity to find good quality, unique, and affordable furniture through second hand furniture shops.
Upcycling is such a great way to revamp furniture that you already own or have bought secondhand and allows you to see the potential in any furniture piece. Painting home decor different colours or adding extra embellishments are all upcycling, something I bet everyone has attempted once before. Upcycling can be such a great way to take something that looked old and make it fresh and new again. This can also mean repairing and reupholstering furniture such as covering sofas and armchairs in new fabric or replacing broken handles and wheels, this list goes on.
If you’re looking for more information on upcycling furniture and homeware click here.
Facebook marketplace is revolutionary and no we’re not apologising for it. We are currently living in the digital car boot sale era. A vast marketplace of goods is literally at our fingertips, which is fantastic, but perhaps even more encouraging is the opportunity it provides to buy and sell at a pace that can be sustained by growing families, trends, and changing tastes. When it comes to using sites like Facebook Marketplace, there is a sense of ease that fits the often hectic pacing of daily life. What distinguishes platforms like Facebook’s is that it exists within an actual community of people, neighbours, and can be seen as a really positive element of social media.
Car Boot Sales/ Sunday Markets:
Car boot sales are a quick and easy way to find one-of-a-kind items at low prices. You can literally find anything and everything at them, including dining room tables, artwork, toys, and so much more. Mooching around one is a really fun way to spend the weekend, you never know what treasures you might find.. Choosing to shop sustainably by opting for pre-loved items is an incredibly simple way to help the environment. Selling at car boot sales or finding new pieces for yourself both reduce the amount of waste we as consumers produce – sounds like a Win-Win situation to us!
Click here to discover car boot sales in your area.
Buying Sustainable Furniture:
Sustainable furniture is the ideal way for finding contemporary handcrafted pieces that are gentle on our planet, whilst adding a unique touch to your home. There has been a rise of popularity amongst sustainable home decor as we realise the devastating impact mass produced products have on our world. Going green with these home accessories is our best attempt to change the narrative. When making the choice to shop sustainably you’re not only helping the planet but also supporting small business, contributing to local economies and encouraging makers to continue creating beautifully crafted products that are often one of a kind.
Here at Wearth, we champion small businesses who sell sustainable products for your home, so here’s our top-picks of eco-friendly furniture, homeware and decor that will bring style and elegance to any home.
Wearth’s Slow-homewares Top-picks:
This striking ‘X’ frame dining table is handcrafted and made to order in Buckinghamshire, UK from sustainably sourced solid oak. It is the ideal addition to any contemporary kitchen or dining space, adding a refined rustic aesthetic to the heart of your home. Matching benches are also available.
Create your own Alpine summer cabin vibe with this reclaimed wood Verbier bed, handcrafted in England. The sustainable wood bed, finished with a natural, matte hardwax, will not only look amazing in your bedroom, but it will also make you feel good, as the reworked timber gets a new life and boosts your green interiors credentials.
You’ll need a duvet to go with your bed. Why not choose this bamboo duvet which offers year round comfort, made with 100% eco-friendly bamboo fibre making the duvet soft and light. This duvet has a ‘cloud-like’ feeling and is made from vegan materials making it suitable for everyone, especially those with sensitive skin and allergies. Bamboo is well known for its natural properties such as being hypoallergenic and antibacterial making it inhabitable for fungi and dust mites.
This gorgeous, handmade throw blanket is made from 100% recycled cotton. The blanket is a soft yellow colour adorned with fringed tassels on the sides and a screen printed flower motif. Place on the end of your bed or sofa to bring a stylish pop of colour and natural feel to your room.
This stand-out, accent cushion cover combines comfort and style to any room. Made with recycled cotton materials and AZO free dyes, this art deco print could jazz up any bedroom or living room without costing the planet.
Ethical and sustainable, thisy handmade ceramic jug is crafted in the UK and features beautiful earthy tones inspired by Dartmoor’s forest. Each jug is carefully hand-thrown and designed to be one-of-a-kind, making for a lovely addition to your dining room or as a thoughtful present for someone special.
By now we’ve all seen these candles floating around Pinterest and Instagram as super trendy candles being used as decorations. These stylish yet sustainable candles add that minimalist touch to your home, extra bonus to the aromatic beautiful scents it releases when it’s lit.
Who said pegboards were for mechanics only? This minimal but contemporary pegboard is great for people who are in need of space but want a standout design. It offers a great eco-friendly solution while offering a new talking point to your space.
With an array of colour to choose from, this handmade minimalist Macrame plant hanger is created using 100% recycled cotton rope. Cream, sage, yellow, pink or grey , this hanger can add a pop of personality to any space.
This Woodland Light lamp is a stylish and modern addition to your living area or bedroom. Bright Corner handcrafted this piece in the UK from FSC-certified birch plywood.