The sofa story

Is circularity feasible in the era of overproduction?

The sofa story is a personal anecdote we share. As a matter of fact, overproduction is devastating our planet. Since a large part of communication is about repair and reuse, we try to understand if circularity is feasible in the era of overproduction.

A couple of months ago we ordered a new sofa. When it was ready to be delivered, we called the seller to inform them we wanted to restore the old one and bring it somewhere else. They said they would take the measurements and let us know the cost.

The sofa: understanding quality

When they came to deliver the new sofa, we noticed some differences. The new one was much lighter. The old one was heavy. While the new one had no structure, the old one had a stable, solid body. Furthermore, the old one had a soft hand 100% cotton cover. For new sofa coverings, you mainly find polyester because cotton would be too expensive, so they say. In fact, the old one was a great quality sofa, which lasted about 25 years. We are doubtful the new one will last so long.

However, having the chance to check the internal structure quality, we confirmed the boy to bring it to their workshop and let us know the repair/restoration cost.

Repairing vs. buying a new one

Here comes the fun! When they tried to carry the old sofa downstairs to the ground floor, they realised it was too heavy. So they started disassembling it, but the boy in charge, all of a sudden, destroyed the sofa underneath his feet. “Yes, it was good quality but you better buy another new one. The repair cost would be too high.”

Obviously, he exclaimed that for two reasons:
First, he preferred to avoid the effort of carrying the heavy weight downstairs.
Second, he couldn’t understand, for real, the quality of what he had destroyed.

So, “buy a new one” is the easy solution in a consumerist society. But when sellers tell you there’s no difference in terms of quality from one item to the other, it’s not true.

It’s like you show us an archive Saint Laurent garment or a couture dress from your wardrobe, and we tell you to get rid of that and buy a new item! “You know, it’s cheaper than repairing the old one!”

That is a complete lack of understanding. Indeed, the sofa story represents the contemporary way of handling commerce and fostering a consumerist lifestyle. Also, whatever the category – fashion, furniture, technology, automobile – the trick doesn’t change. Industries do not stop their overproduction patterns, so repairing won’t work on a large scale, which we need in order to reduce our impact on the planet.

In the end, if those who sell products cannot distinguish quality, materials, and finishings, how can they even mention the option of repairing?

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