Old Furniture: Donation or disposal

Day 24 – New furniture is exciting and can really spruce up your living space. Unfortunately, the task of removing the old furniture can be troublesome. For some it’s super easy, schedule a special pick up and have your local streets and sanitation haul it away for free. The only drawback, that furniture is going to end up in a landfill.

Another option, if you’re lucky, is to have your new furniture supplier take away your old furniture. I’m sure you have seen the Walter E. Smithe commercials advertising this service.

“We recently partnered with a charity that puts old furniture to good use. It is a halfway house for people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. The organization takes 90% of our clients’ old furniture to sell at resale shops or give to their clients to use.”Walter E. Smithe

Walter E. Smithe also works with Chicago Furniture Bank. If you’re furniture store offers this service, be sure to ask where your old furniture is going.

Donation is the best option. Donation Town will set you up with a local charity and help schedule a pick-up. Once, you type in your zip code a list of local charities will pop up for you to choose from. The whole process seems very easy.

Now, what to do if your furniture is in bad shape and donation does not appear to be an option? Well, this is where it gets tricky. I was on the search for a company that would take my old furniture. I had two couches and a chair (why so much? I was holding on to a couple pieces for years, not wanting to toss in a landfill). One couch was in pretty good shape, while the other couch and chair were looking pretty shabby. I thought I found a solution to my problem. Couch Disposal Plus (run by Load Up) seemed to be the answer. They had good reviews and an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau. On their site they state:

“Your old furniture items will be professionally and responsibly disposed of in the most eco-friendly way whenever possible.”

So, I went ahead and scheduled a pick up. I was billed $154. It was a little pricey, but I figured it was worth it. I believed they would donate furniture pieces that were eligible and properly dispose of pieces that were not. I pictured them taking the furniture apart and recycling the pieces they could, like springs, wood and fabric. Once they arrived, I quickly realized that the picture in my head was complete fantasy. I was led to believe that this company was “eco-friendly” and clearly they were not. I had been greenwashed!

First, I was expecting a box truck with the Couch Disposal Plus Logo, as shown on their website. Instead two gentlemen showed up in a rusty old pick up truck. As they struggled to get all three pieces of furniture on their truck (which did not safely fit on the truck), I asked them where they had to drive to drop off the furniture. One gentleman explained it was going to a warehouse, where it would be decided which pieces could be donated and which pieces would go to the landfill. Landfill? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What happened to disposing in an “eco-friendly” way? On top of it all, the one couch I thought had a chance to be donated was now in a pickup truck, exposed to the elements (January in Chicago, not ideal). I was beside myself. I had been completely duped and I felt awful.

After they left, I sent a strongly worded email, expressing my extreme disappointment and dissatisfaction. I explained that I would be sure to tell everyone I knew not to use their services. As I clicked the send button, a text message came across my phone asking for a review of my experience. I copied and pasted my email to the survey and clicked on 1 star (zero stars was not an option). I quickly received a message apologizing for the experience. The message went on to say that a representative would be in touch soon to address the problem.

As of today (8 days since pick-up), my original email (that was sent through their website) has been sent back saying it was undeliverable and I have not heard back from a representative to discuss my unfavorable review.

So, the lesson of the story, always ask questions. Make sure you are working with reputable people that are honest and stand behind the claims they make about their business. As for an environmentally friendly way to dispose of your old furniture, unfortunately, I have no good answers.

Lastly, since we are on the topic of furniture, we went ahead and invested in a LoveSac couch. I have never spent so much on furniture in my life, but we were sold on their business model.

  1. Their versatility and removable and washable covers make their lifespan far longer than a typical couch.
  2. Sactionals use upholstery fabric made from 100% Repreve (using recycled plastic bottles) certified recycled yarns.
  3. Sactionals were designed and packaged to maximuze shipping efficiency. Recycled kraft cardboard is used to lessen the use of bleaches and dyes, further reducing their total environmental impact.
  4. The hard inserts have a lifetime guarantee.

To say the least, we are very pleased with our new furniture and are happy to know we will not need to find an “eco-friendly” disposal option ever again!

Tomorrow, appreciating a product that has lost some major points on the environmentally friendly checklist.

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