In 2020, roughly 55,000 tonnes of furniture was ended up in the Metro Vancouver landfill. Furniture is almost universally excluded from donation-receiving organizations due to fears of bedbug transmission, and sheer overwhelm.
Most organizations do not have sufficient warehouse space and capacity to hold and process the furniture which residents of Vancouver want to give away. By creating a program wholly focused on receiving these donations, we plan to disrupt the current throw-away societal norm for furniture.
The Ethical Chair (TEC) is a concept-stage program for extending the life and enhancing the value of used furniture. As part of the circular economy, TEC will divert furniture items from the landfill by restoring or upcycling and then selling them while providing employment to refugees and new immigrants along with language training and mentorship opportunities in trades such as upholstery and furniture restoration.
Received items will be immediately heat treated to prevent bedbugs. Afterwards, items will be repaired, restored, and/or upcycled and then sold through multiple conventional and modern sales channels and partnerships.
Unsellable items will be diverted to an art and artist section where they’ll be upcycled or used to create art installations. Remaining pieces will be broken down and recycled into new uses by our partner organizations with the goal of achieving zero waste and full diversion from the landfill.
Furniture will be supplied through our partnership with the Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver (BBGV) and other local charities will be progressively added to the program.
TEC’s goal is to be recognized and sought out for it’s authentic environmental and socially centered values. A smaller scale proof-of-concept is currently underway.
Revivify Repair-Reuse-Recycle furniture centres are hubs where furniture items will be sanitized, repaired, restored, and/or upcycled and then reused to give them a new life and divert them from the landfill. These hubs will train and employ disadvantaged hard-to-employ individuals and/or provide vocational and language training and employment opportunities for refugees.
The centres aim to extend the life and enhance the value of donated furniture items. The process will include heat treatment/sanitizing, and if needed, carpentry, re-upholstering, metal work and painting lines. Items will be sold through multiple conventional and modern sales channels and partnerships and will be recognized and sought out for their authentic environmental and socially centered value and branding in addition to being affordable. An alternative brand could be developed for items of higher value.
Items that for any reason cannot be sold through the sales channels will be diverted to an art and artist area where unsellable items will be upcycled by local and resident artists or used to create art installations. All remaining items will be broken down and recycled into new uses by partner organizations with the goal of achieving zero waste and full diversion from the landfill.
The furniture centres will also make their services available to the public at an affordable rate to promote the repair culture, contribute to the financial sustainability of the initiative, and make furniture repairs more accessible and mainstream for the general public.
Revivify, Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver, and Mattress Recycling are working together on pilot projects for laying the foundations of a collaboration that would see this concept to completion. It is expected that at the launch stage several more organizations will be participating in the program. Currently the focus is on finding a suitable space for housing the initiative.
The revivify centre will require a large industrial type space to accommodate the large flow of donated furniture. The space will be divided into the following 6 sections:
1. Drop off-Storage
2. Heat Treatment
3. Restoration and Upcycling lines
4. Art and artist corner
6. Vocational and language training
Upon arrival at the facility, every piece will be heat treated and certified bug-free. This service can also be offered to the general public for a fee. After heat treatment, the pieces will be inspected by a skilled designer to determine what line they should directed to:
a) Furniture that is in sellable condition will be cleaned, priced, and taken directly to the Sales-Retail-Pickup section to be photographed, documented, and listed for sale through different channels. Renting furniture for movie sets/staging will be explored.
b) Furniture that requires repair/upcycling will be directed to the appropriate line(s) and then directed to the sales process
c) Items that are not useable will be collected and transported to the recycling partner (Mattress Recycling).
d) Art installations will be monetized through partnerships with local governments and art sale and rental channels
The repair services will be available to the public at an affordable rate to make furniture repair and restoration more accessible and mainstream.