The resource efficient choice for ‘new’ furniture

Recycling is a familiar concept to many of us, but what is re-use? Making items available to others, or making repairs so they can continue being used.

Instead of tossing out old and worn furniture, reupholster it to bring new life and cut down on waste and further resource use. Often the foam on university chairs can be steamed to revive its form. Furniture frames are reused and desks and tables can be sanded, buffed and sealed.

Reupholstery has many benefits, both immediate and long-term...

Less waste to be put into landfills. If the furniture was sent for recycling, the component parts may be broken down and recycled – which all uses energy.

Reduction in use of raw materials.  By refreshing what we already have, fewer trees need to be cut down, and less new steel needs to be made. Fewer natural resources are being consumed, and less pollution created.

The modern materials used in re-upholstery are also ‘green’. Most new seating foams made are chemical free. Polyester Dacron for padding and cushion wrapping also has recycled components. Many fabric companies use recycled fibre to make new fabric. Others use environmentally friendly processes to dye the yarns, and use more natural fibres.

Save money. Purchasing new furniture is expensive, and should be an investment. Buying better quality items, or repair and refresh where possible.

Many of our staff have reused furniture and are very happy with the results. In the Queens building, we refurbished 12 tub chairs and two sofas and saved almost £3,000.


The new sofas, and what they looked like before.

Helen Burchett, School Administrative and Projects Assistant, said: “We have been so pleased with the results; fresh, vibrant, eye-catching chairs which improve the look and feel of the space immeasurably. We really value sustainability at the University of Bristol and are delighted to be able to work towards our target in this area by refurbishing and reupholstering our well-used chairs, instead of replacing them. They have been injected with colour and given a beautiful new lease of life. We will continue to enjoy their excellent work and our lovely ‘new’ chairs for a long time to come. 

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