Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on June 7, 2008
I do my best to keep my foodscraps out of the landfill, but I’m not sure there’s enough space in my composter for my sofa and my dining room table. That’s why I’m a bit confused about the new products – including sofas, tables, chairs, glasses, etc. – that are touting as completely biodegradable.
For an example, check out looolo textiles, whose products are designed to disintegrate after a year of composting.
Lightening the footprint of consumer culture is noble and certainly has a place in this world. I’d love to have a few couch pillows that I can throw in the back yard and let nature do its work. And the more we produce that we can reuse rather than discard is the right direction for the future.
According to some folks who study consumerism however, the idea of biodegradable furniture is absurd. U of Chicago English professor, Bill Brown thinks so. “We all live such cluttered lives in which so much of what we have we’d be better off without, yet most of us are better off with our dining room tables or our sofas,” he said.
There have been past attempts to flood the market with biodegradable products like garbage bags and diapers. But then there’s this pesky little landfill study where landfills were excavated only to discover 50-year-old mummified carrots. Landfill conditions simply don’t allow things to disintegrate – even if they are natural products.
So there are two issues here. The first is trying to convince people to buy expensive items like sofas that they can’t pass on. The second is finding a better system than landfills to allow this stuff to decompose.
And then there are the unintended consequences. No more heirlooms to pass to our children? No more antiques? No more thrift stores? And worst of all, no more garage sales? Egads!