Carbon Emissions and the Office Furniture Industry: How are they related?

Carbon Emissions and the Office Furniture Industry: How are they related?

Since the early 1970s, CO2 emissions have risen by 90%. That is a wild statistic to even begin wrapping your mind around, I know. Upon the rise in my brows and the widening of my eyes, I followed that quick read with, “That can’t be good.” 

Clearly, it’s not, but combatting any sort of issue begins with understanding the roots and how they affect us directly. 

Between the years 1970 and 2011, 78% of CO2 emissions came from fossil fuel combustion and various industrial processes (EPA). Agriculture and deforestation come in at a close second as major factors contributing to the climate crisis. 

In the office furniture industry in particular, our founder and CEO, Brandi Susewitz, has seen tremendous carbon footprints; many of them wasted on a short-term lease and thrown to the landfill. 

Prior to Reseat’s conception, a company would relocate their space with nowhere to put their furniture. Storage is too expensive, and finding someone on Craigslist to purchase 500 task chairs is virtually impossible. Most of the time, the furniture they’ve got is meant to last between 10 and 15 years. How long are their leases? They average around 7 years. 

Are you seeing the issue?

All that waste for the company to relocate and contribute to the cycle of bad habits over and over again. It’s no one’s fault though; there was never a viable solution. 

When it comes to establishing the exact carbon footprint of a single item, this is a typically rough estimate. But it’s got us wondering: What about a singular task chair?

According to FIRA, a single task chair is estimated to have a carbon footprint of about 72 kilograms. For reference, a single email generates between 0.03kg and 26kg of CO2, and the production of beef generates nearly 60kg (Sedna, Forbes). 

I know, a single email, crazy right? We’re not as eco-conscious as we think we are. 

The production of a task chair, as previously noted, isn’t contributing a whole lot of good things into the world besides a place to sit. Much like anything else, however, they do have life cycles, which typically depend on the quality of the materials used. A good-quality office chair should last you about fifteen years (if you’re nice to it). On the other hand, if the chair was cheaply produced, it might only last between six months to a year (ouch).

Here's how to stretch that life cycle:

 First, you could make repairs as needed. Easy. Second, try reupholstery services. Is the current fabric on your seat a little worn? Maybe it’s torn to shreds, we don’t judge. There are lots of reupholstery services that could help you out with making that seat as good as new. Take us, for example. We’ve partnered with Oakland-based Kay Chesterfield to help those in the Bay Area achieve their reupholstery dreams. 

This is a great solution if you’re local to the Bay Area. If you’re not around, that’s okay! As previously mentioned, there are many services local and accessible to you. 

If you’re out of luck with the first two options, do all in your power to recycle and reuse the chair. For some pieces, this might involve taking apart the chair in its entirety and sorting out the parts, recycling accordingly. For others, it might mean giving it to a friend. If you’re out of luck with friends, give Reseat a try (that’s us).

We’ll always be here for your reducing, reusing, and recycling needs (when it comes to office furniture, that is).