Is ‘fast deco’ the new fast fashion? Landfills are piled high with cheap, throwaway home decor

Copyright Patrick Perkins

Nearly half of furniture waste is burned in incinerators or buried in landfills.

Fast fashion has come under the spotlight in recent years with many consumers making an effort to avoid buying cheap, mass-produced clothing.

Now, another environmentally damaging market is emerging.

Fast deco, as it has been dubbed in a recent report, refers to low-cost furniture and home decorations produced in bulk.

Like clothing, they are a cheap imitation of high fashion trends and are replaced quickly by the next craze.

Fast deco is as environmentally damaging as fast fashion

A recent report by French environmental associations has called out the growing environmental impact of fast deco.

Zero Waste France, Les Amis de la Terre and the Réseau National des Ressourceries et Recycleries say the ecological problem is comparable to that of fast fashion.

The authors report that fast deco and fast fashion share the same business model: huge quantities of low-cost products and rapid collection renewals.

Commercial holidays such as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are used to launch new collections and stimulate purchases.

As with fashion, they take advantage of social media by encouraging “unboxing” and “haul” videos.

This business model is exploited by chains such as Zara Home, H&M and Shein.

“Obviously, the giants of fast fashion, e-commerce and mass distribution, but also the emerging players in clearance and e-commerce, have done everything to strengthen this trend in order to make the most profit, with disastrous consequences for the planet,” says Pauline Debrabandere, campaign coordinator for Zero Waste France.

COVID saw a boom in fast deco

During COVID, many people invested in refurnishing their homes, leading to a boom in purchases.

A study published in French financial newspaper Les Échos shows that between 2017 and 2022, the number of furniture items placed on the market in France increased by 88 per cent.

Even now, 46 per cent of buyers of home decoration products renew elements of their living room at least once a year.

With the increase in purchases, the quantity of waste has also increased. Between 2014 and 2020, waste from furniture items doubled in France.

Today, eco-organisations collect 1.3 million tonnes of furniture waste. Nearly half of it is non-reusable, non-repairable and non-recyclable and is burned in incinerators or buried in landfills.

“Faced with a saturation of goods, the decoration sector is choosing to accelerate its production rate towards levels that are unsustainable for the planet, always with the same objective: to create desire from superficial need,” says Pierre Condamine, overproduction campaign manager at Friends of the Earth France.

“At a time when planetary limits are being exceeded, we need urgently to regulate the sector in order to limit its excessive consumption of resources.”

Environmentalist groups advocate for reuse and repair

Environmental organisations want fast deco to be replaced with a culture of reuse and repair.

According to an estimate from RREUSE, a European network of social reuse enterprises, members succeeded in saving around 1 million tonnes of goods and materials from landfill sites in 2022.

This saves the equivalent of the annual CO2 emissions of more than 108,000 European citizens.

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Categories: Alternative, Climate Change
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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