Upholstery: the most sustainable option 

Upholstery: the most sustainable option 

Want to trade in your new sofa for a newer one? Don’t do it. Upholstery is a way of giving your furniture a whole new look without taking part in the throwaway culture. Reuse your old furniture, bringing it back to life in the name of sustainability. Like what you’re reading? Read on to know why you should save your 20-year-old sofa from being dumped.

What is upholstery?

Upholstery is using materials to make furniture more comfortable to sit on. It often involves attaching a furniture frame with padding, cushioning and fabric or leather textile covers. 

With upholstery, your furniture tends to go through a visual change. 

Rather than you buying a whole new sofa, upholstery allows for furniture to be restored and reused.  

The truth is that you don’t need something new but need to repurpose the old. It is a great option if you have furniture in mostly great condition and needs minimal fixing.   

But don’t be fooled, upholstery can take several hours- replacing the fabric on a sofa can take up to 22 hours.  

Before you grab some upholstery supplies make sure that you do your research on what sustainable fabrics you want to use.

Why is sustainability important?  

  • The preservation of natural resources: with upholstery, you are not buying new materials and using considerably less energy in the production process. Ensure the fabrics you use are certified with OCS, GRS, and other standards that will prioritise environmentally friendly production processes. 
  • A reduced carbon footprint: By using upcycled fabrics you are promoting healthier ecosystems and reducing the demand for raw materials. 
  • The promotion of a circular economy: A circular economy can address the issue of discarded furniture, with 10 million tonnes being thrown away annually across Europe.By giving textile fabrics new life, you are reducing waste generation and resource consumption. 

Sustainable manufactured fabrics 

It is important to be aware of sustainable fabrics when committing to upholstery. You don’t have to compromise on quality when opting for sustainable fabrics. 

  • Organic cotton- cotton is one of the most widely used fabrics in the fashion industry.  
  • Hemp- hemp is a sustainable plant that does not require as much water or pesticides as cotton. The fabric has grown in popularity over the years due to its versatile nature.
  • Bamboo- Bamboo is a great alternative to less sustainable fabrics like polyester. It requires no pesticides.  It is renewable and is the fastest-growing plant. However, the process of making the bamboo fabric may not be as eco-friendly as initially thought. In the production process, bamboo needs to be dissolved in chemicals. These chemicals are often toxic and damaging to the environment. Additionally, it is known as a damaging invasive species. 
  • Linen- linen is a biodegradable fabric. It is known as a lower-impact fabric meaning it is sustainable and made to last. The main reason it is sustainable is because the entire flax plant can be made into a fibre, meaning that almost none of the plant is wasted in the production process.  
  • Recycled polyester- polyester is known as one of the largest polluters in fashion, which is why recycled polyester is the way to go. By using recycled polyester, you are preventing plastics from entering the landfill and oceans. With 8 million metric tons of plastics entering the ocean every year, it makes a great difference using recycled polyester. And in terms of quality recycled polyester is almost as good as traditional polyester but it uses 59 % less energy. 
  • Recycled nylon-recycled nylon has the same benefits as recycled polyester. It is often sourced from old fishing nets. The drawback is that it isn’t biodegradable. 

But how much does furniture upholstery cost? 

Replacing furniture is often expensive and sometimes the more economical but less sustainable option is to buy new furniture. 

How expensive is upholstery? And is it worth it? 

The cost of upholstery will vary, it ultimately depends on if the furniture you plan to fix up is made up of cheaper materials or expensive. 

Equally, knowing if your furniture is modern or ‘old’ will impact the decision-making process. 

  1. Modern furniture is less than 50 years old 
  2. Old furniture is over 50 years old. 
  3. Antique furniture must be at least 100 years old. 

The truth is ugly furniture lasts longer according to the people on the internet who can’t get rid of their couch from the 70s.

Typically, the older the furniture the better materials used to make it, and the more durable it is. 

Similarly, if you have bought a new sofa and it wasn’t ‘too expensive’ then it is likely that reupholstery would be a waste of time because cheap furniture means lower quality and a lower furniture life expectancy. 

Unfortunately, most modern furniture is not made to last long. They are made to replace and lead to a ‘throwaway’ culture. 

However, if you happen to have modern furniture that is of good quality for the most part then it will be worth getting the more lacking parts reupholstered. 

Keep in mind that you need to be prepared to invest in the project and if you aren’t saving up or have the money then it is better to sell your furniture than leave it half done. 

Final thoughts 

Upholstery isn’t something you can dive into quickly; it requires significant time, effort, and careful consideration. However, the results are not only stunning but also have a meaningful impact on the furniture sector. 

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