Retail Sustainability Trend Goes From Resale to Refuse With Furniture Made From Trash

Retail Sustainability Goes From Resale to Refuse

It’s been said that “one person’s trash is another’s treasure,” and a New York furniture maker is literally bringing that old saw to life, while looking to tap unprecedented consumer demand for sustainable, reusable products that cut waste and reduce stress on the environment.

This, as Brooklyn-based REDU announced in a press release that it is expanding the reach of its recycled furniture via an interactive retail showroom in Manhattan’s super-affluent Upper East Side neighborhood.

“The sustainability industry has been growing steadily for the past 20 years, but only recently has the impact of our production on the environment become unavoidable,” REDU Marketing Manager Madi Rogers told PYMNTS, noting that accelerating demand for sustainable furniture warranted to move.

“Circular economy is the future, and we are ready to lead the way,” Rogers added, describing the company’s efforts to identify the waste streams of neighboring businesses and manufacturers “to see what we can keep out of landfill” and repurpose into one-of-a-kind household furnishing creations.

Waste Not, Want Lots

To be sure, REDU is not alone in chasing this trend in the retail space — or even in the furniture segment. While resale platforms such as Kaiyo or Chairish approach sustainability via the creation of marketplaces that pair up secondhand furniture buyers and sellers, other brands are striving to shrink their carbon footprint and reduce waste in other ways.

For example, several national companies are on the move, including Pottery Barn, which offers reclaimed wood furniture made with salvaged materials, and Crate & Barrel, which sells a line of furniture that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to “ensure that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.”

There are also other tailwinds driving the growth of alternatively sourced goods, especially furniture, where supply chain issues during the pandemic have caused delivery delays of six months or longer for some items to be made and shipped out.

As a result, consumers have also been increasingly looking to local, secondhand marketplaces for products.

“Vintage, by definition, is immediately available and ready to ship, and that has huge advantages in this current environment,” Chairish President and Co-Founder Anna Brockway told PYMNTS in September, while noting her company’s survey found 70% of consumers felt addressing climate change was more important than ever.

Read more: 70% of Consumers Say Addressing Climate Change Is a Key Issue, Fueling Resale Growth

Sustainability Sells

Another facet of REDU’s repurposed furniture business model is the inherent uniqueness — or conversational appeal — of its original repurposed designs.

“Every piece that we create is made from an existing piece we rescue and transform, or it is made from scratch,” Rogers said. “We can be sure of the authenticity of our pieces based on our methodology of procurement. When we procure materials, our entire team sits around the design table and brainstorms possible pieces. We also work with our clients to create custom pieces for their homes.”

With more than half of New York City’s trash consisting of dry construction waste — 60% of which is reusable — REDU and other refuse reducing designers also have plenty of local supply inventory to pick from, once again circumventing the costs and delays being caused by supply chain constraints.

While the future of the environment has been a topic of political debate for many years, more consumers are becoming more conscious about the types of companies they want to do business with and where they spend their money.