How to buy the most sustainable sofa (ever).

Posted on March 14th, 2014

As many readers of this blog know, it’s taken me 40 years to buy a sofa. Which, it so happens, is 32 years longer than it took Steve Jobs.

Image via Favim.com

Image via Favim.com

I’ve previously found some comfort in the fact it took Jobs eight tortured years to find his perfect sofa and quietly repositioned my chronic couch commitment phobia as genius when I read that Job’s indecision was due to the same eccentric perfectionism that created the iPhone.

Perfectionism certainly stalled me, as it does often. In this case I feel (reasonably) justified. I do think it’s super important to make a thoroughly researched and mindful decision when it comes to big house hardware. A lot of resources go into creating, building and delivering them. As well as disposing of them once we realize we made a dumb, fashionable purchase.

I think it’s criminal that many of us now regard furniture as almost seasonal.

I don’t want to be the person chucking out a cheap sofa after three years.

I want to be the person who proudly holds on to it, allows stories to attach to it, has it in her life as a familiar totem and who can pass it on in 30 years to a loved one.

How about I outline a few factors I considered in making my decision, and some tips for buying the most sustainable, toxin-free, environmentally credible, practical, timeless, economical sofa possible. (For those not wanting to read all the way to the punch-line: I arrived at the “Leila” three-seater (deep option) by Jardan.)

First up, let’s be real:

  • The most sustainable option is second-hand. No new resources used, no waste going into landfill. Makes sense.
  • The most toxin-free option is second-hand. Most modern couches contain flame retardants that are not chemically bonded to the foam, they are ineffective in preventing furniture fires and are linked to serious health effects. Formaldehyde is used in pressed wood products and may be present in couches that are stain-resistant. With a pre-loved sofa, someone else bore these toxic loads. Clean sailing for you.

I looked into second-hand options for quite some time, and have previously taken on couches from friends and from off the street etc. But I was turning 40 and felt it was time to invest in something that actually suited my needs.

If you buy from scratch:

  • Be practical with the shape. Think about it. Reflect on how you use a couch. I went for a three-seater (I wanted the couch to be a hero Read more

what steve jobs’ perfectionism has taught me

Posted on July 17th, 2013

It truly is an oddity. It’s become a talking point among friends. A joke at first.  I can’t buy a couch. And it’s come to hold up a mirror to a few fundamental sadnesses about life.

Picture-331

Cold comfort: It took Steve Jobs 10 years to buy a couch.

Indeed, I’ve never owned a couch. I’ve inherited old ones when I’ve moved into the various rentals I’ve traipsed between over the years. I bought my first apartment late last year. I’ve been sitting in it… on the floor. Actually, on my yoga foam roller on a bit of old carpet a friend passed onto me. I work from this set-up. I meditate here. I eat my meals from the one – yes one – chair I have (I sit on the floor, eat from the chair). I’ve lived like this for seven months. And, yes, I know it’s sad.

I struggled to know what it is that stalls me from buying a couch. Or a dining table. Or chairs. I’ve been trying to find a sustainably made one that ticks off all My Simple Home boxes. My criteria is tight; I’m a painful perfectionist who can’t buy a pair of undies until I know the manufacturing history and carbon mileage of them and determined that they’re the best design on the market such that my rare purchase of a new pair of undies (I own eight pairs currently) is not wasted.

But that’s only part of it. It’s this too: to buy something so… committed (THERE, I SAID IT)…is a big deal. Couches are commitments. Right now, I can pack up and take off with a moment’s notice. In fact, I’m about to next week. I don’t own a fridge either (I bought a place with an inbuilt one). With a couch (and a fridge) you can’t fly. At least it feels that way.

So since it’s a big deal, and reflects more than just seating apparatus,  the potency of my couch-buying decision is magnified. And, of course, the more potent, the more I freeze. I can’t make a decision because it’s come to matter so much.

We stall on decisions when there’s fear. Indecision flags fear for us.

And so it reared it’s head: commitment niggles me. When things niggle me, I bubble-wrap them in perfectionism. No one can accuse me of being scared of commitment when I can just turn around and and say I’m merely being a perfectionist. And so my fear can continue, unchallenged a little longer. I’m seductive like that.

And then I came across the above picture of Steve Jobs in his lounge room. A concerned friend sent it to me.  It could be me. That’s my lounge below.

Read more

my simple home: five ways to feng shui your joint in five minutes

Posted on June 13th, 2013

If you’ve been following the My Simple Home series, you’ll know I’m on a mission to create the cleanest, most eco, minimal home possible and sharing each step, figuring you might like to learn from the process, too. I’ve shared on hazards you should avoid and how to detox your kitchen, and you can catch up on the full series here. I should add: it’s a very slow process. I’ve been so busy that, well, I haven’t even bought a couch yet. I know, I know…I’m sure many of you have much to say on this (um, commitment issues?). My friends certainly do.

But I digress.

This post I’ve got building biologist and feng shui expert Nicole Bijlsma sharing her top five tips for getting the energy in my place sorted. It’s a snappy three minute video, if you’ve got the time. Otherwise, I’ve shared the highlights below.

1. Get rid of clutter.

Clutter represents the past. Hanging on to stuff? You’re hanging on to old stuff. Figuratively and literally.

2. Watch for the highs and lows.

Hidden clutter under the bed has an impact on you as you sleep. It stores in your body, and can make you sluggish. And clutter up high suggests the feeling of having things rain down on you. Remove the highs and lows.

3. Sit with a solid wall behind you.

Furniture placement is important. In a room where you spend lots of time – sitting at a work desk, or on a couch – make Read more