Imported furniture vs Australian made
Updated: May 18
How is overseas manufacturing impacting you and your environment?
You head to a furniture store seeing a $500 imported sofa displayed adjacent to a $2200 Australian made sofa. There’s no denying the cheaper option is seriously tempting but when you are looking for furniture do you consider more than just the cost? When you are looking at low-cost imported furniture do you consider the negative social, economic and environmental impacts your purchase might also carry?
Image source: 13 Interiors
We don’t often see how each step of the production chain affects our planet. In the same way we don’t always consider under what standards and conditions the furniture was made. Was it ethically sourced and manufactured? Were safe working conditions provided to the craftsperson and was any child labour involved? These are important aspects to ponder before committing to a purchase. The poor quality of low-cost imported furniture indicates that its lifespan may be seriously limited, and it has a great environmental and economic impact.
We want consumers to know what to look for when purchasing goods and thus below we’ve gone into detail about some major differences between furniture manufactured overseas vs majority Australian Made furniture, particularly furniture made by Artifex Australia.
The environmental and economic impacts of furniture manufactured overseas
A short life cycle destined for landfill
Poorly made mass produced furniture ultimately results in a piece that has a short life cycle. The lifespan of poor-quality low-cost furniture is limited and as soon as it starts to show imperfections it hits the kerb and heads to landfill as it is often too difficult and too pricey to repair. Cheap Furniture becomes an expensive problem, resulting in both a waste of money and resources.
The ABC’s War on Waste, recently reported that up to 85% of kerbside furniture won’t be recycled, with the vast majority heading straight to landfill. We’ve become a throw-away society with so much cheap furniture available that isn’t built to last.
I think we all know Australian made costs more, but there are reasons for this. Australian-made products uphold a certain level of quality that imported products do not always exhibit. At Artifex Australia, our team of furniture makers are committed to providing top quality, handcrafted goods with a focus on the use of high-quality, sustainable materials. Over the lifetime of an Artifex Australia made sofa, you will need potentially 3 or 4 imported sofas to last the same time span, therefore costing your pocket and the environment more in the long run.
Not only is Artifex Australia using sustainable materials to build our products, we are also working towards having 100% recycled waste and we are almost there! We are always striving to care for the environment and minimise the impact that the manufacturing processes may cause. You can find out more about this by viewing our current recycling programme.
Bought local – repaired local
Furniture made in Australia is required to adhere to our strict high-quality standards and therefore more likely to last. It is guaranteed by lengthy warranty periods and provides a greater return on your investment. Australian made furniture is also more likely to last longer with local repair and reupholster options available.
Having easy access to local manufacturers if and when maintenance or repairs are required means your products can last longer without being pushed away and dumped on the kerb. The manufacturers and skilled local craftsmen also make it simple for you to get your piece(s) reupholstered and brought back to life, for what could be another 10 – 20 years for those most loved pieces, built strong and passed down through the generations.
Creating a demand for Australian jobs
To put it simply, purchasing furniture that has been manufactured overseas eliminates support to our local economy. Buying Australian goods and spending your money with local business supports our local retailers, local manufacturing as well as the Australian economy. Keeping your money in Australia helps boost our economy and create more demand for local jobs, allowing our local craftspeople to continue doing what they love.
Additional to this, there are certain labour and business practices Australian businesses are required to adhere to, that are either are not required or complied with in other countries. Therefore, you know that when you are buying Australian made furniture, you are contributing to a business that treats and pays their workers fairly.
Australian Made Chief Executive, Ben Lazzaro, says in recent article by Australian Made
“By calling on Australians to buy Australian right now, not only will we get products made to some of the highest quality and safety standards in the world, we can create local jobs and economic activity that will aid in the recovery process, while also strengthening our local manufacturing capabilities”
The real cost of transport
Buying Australian made products reduces greenhouse gas emissions and this is due to the reduction in energy consumption required to transport products within Australia, compared to products coming from overseas which typically consume a much longer process.
Locally transported items have a lower impact on the environment as they require less travel time and therefore less energy resources to get them from the production facility to the store/customer. Further to this, delivery costs will also be significantly lower when shipping within Australia than if you are shipping from overseas.
Sitting on toxic chemicals
Furniture that is imported is more likely to contain toxic materials and chemicals used in the manufacturing and shipping process. This is because there are chemicals used when making imported goods that are not approved here in Australia. These can be found in the foams, glues, timbers and even fabrics used in furniture manufactured overseas.
These chemicals are toxic to humans and our environment and there is a reason they are banned in Australian manufactured goods. For example, Formaldehyde is a colourless gas with a strong, irritating odour that can be present in an imported sofa that you will be sitting and breathing in for the rest of that sofa’s life.
Timber can be so good, or so bad
When responsibly sourced and certified, wood is an excellent option for sustainability. It is renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable.
When not responsibly sourced, you can be looking at deforestation which causes destruction of critical carbon stores, habitat loss for wildlife, and a devastating impact to those who rely on the forests for food, shelter and their livelihoods. Australia has strict regulations for timber harvesting and a proud responsibility for sustainable management of our forests and plantations. Our timber suppliers are committed to our forests, our community and our future just as we are. At Artifex Australia we create our frames from sustainable materials such as western Australian Jarrah hard wood with Australian made plywood construction, and Australian made mdf to hold it all together.
Unfortunately, most imported furniture and even some cheaper Australian made furniture is manufactured with frames made from low-quality soft timbers such as pine, and particle board instead of plywood. Imported particleboard can be manufactured using old growth forest and glues with prohibited carcinogens. These materials are damaging to our environment, they do not last the test of time and end up in rubbish tips, they are not sustainable and can be detrimental to our health.
Furniture made in Australia is required to adhere to strict safety and quality standards.
Australian made furniture can be repaired and reupholstered locally, giving it new life and extending its lifespan.
Spending your money with local business supports our local retailers, local manufacturing as well as the Australian economy.
Buying Australian made products reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
We can’t avoid all chemicals, but we know many toxic chemicals are banned in Australian manufacturing to keep you and your family safe.
The extra expense for products manufactured by Artifex Australia provide you with top quality furniture, using sustainable materials, built by local craftsmen supporting the community and our Australian economy.
Low-cost low-quality imported furniture may seem like a good idea and short-term fix, but it’s our planet that ends up footing the bill. We should be thinking sustainably and long term. Thinking about good quality products built to last a lifetime.
At Artifex Australia we are strong believers of buy once, buy well. Our skilled team handcraft furniture that is built to Australian standards and built to last. We offer a 10-year structural warranty and allow you the ability to get creative and customise your furniture, finding something that suits your requirements perfectly, minimising the risk of furniture sent to landfill because it didn’t last or meet your needs.