Antiques vs Modern Furniture - which is better for the environment?

When we want furniture for our homes, we will usually think of buying new items. But did you know that antiques are a better buy? Not only are antiques a great investment, they're built to last, beautiful, and they're more environmentally-friendly to buy than their modern day equivalent too! 


Antique Furniture is Greener than the Modern Day Equivalent


Infographic Highlights the Carbon Footprint of a 21st Century Piece of Furniture Compared to the Antique Equivalent


International Antiques & Collectors Fairs (iacf) has completed a study to show the difference in the level of emissions between an Antique Chest of Drawers and a 21st Century Chest of Drawers. The study shows antiques are indeed the greener choice when buying furniture for the home. 


The study highlights the lower carbon footprint of antiques compared to that of their modern day equivalent. The results compare the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the manufacture and use of an antique chest of drawers to a modern day chest of drawers. The results show the total carbon footprint including manufacturing and shipping for an antique chest of drawers is 139.6kg CO2e over a 180 year lifetime. Comparatively, a modern day chest of drawers has a total carbon footprint of 170.38 kg CO2e in a 15 year lifetime.


A breakdown of the total results divided by the lifetime of the piece of furniture show that an antique chest of drawers has an annual carbon footprint of 0.72kg CO2e, compared to 11.36kg CO2e per year for the brand new check of drawers. Therefore, the new chest of drawers has a carbon footprint 16 times higher than the antique equivalent per year. 


The antique chest of drawers was made in the 19th century from pine wood and thought to be from the Baltic region, it weighs around 43kg. The modern day chest of drawers was made in China from a combination of birch, MDF, chipboard and walnut veneer, and weighs around 69kg.     


Other interesting statistics about the furniture industry which were included in the study show £4.6 billion worth of furniture was imported in 2013. 32 per cent of all imported furniture in the UK comes from China. 10 million items of furniture get thrown away in the UK each year, with 3 million of those items could get reused without needing any repairs. 


A survey of 2,000 people by, an online marketplace selling antiques, found that 62 per cent of people do not think about sustainability and the impact that buying their new furniture may have on the environment. Although many do not think about buying environmentally-friendly furniture, 67 per cent of people would like to buy their furniture from a sustainable source, and 60 per cent of people believe buying antiques is a good way to repurpose and recycle furniture or other household items. 


Furthermore, 68 per cent of people think buying antiques and recycling or up-cycling old furniture is a good way to help the environment.