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Fast decor is even worse than we thought!

Styling Tips

Anna Lee

The cost may be low, but here's why fast decor isn't worth it - environmentally or aesthetically.

Fast decor - cut from the same cloth as fast fashion - is invested in getting goods from conveyor belts to high street shelves as fast as possible. They ride on the quick pace of changing tastes, intended to be displayed one season and discarded the next. There’s definitely a market for it - but the clamour for new decor, could be the cause of irreversible damage.

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We should say the appeal for mass-produced homewares is easy to understand. Often many of us are renting homes and our living space feels temporary. We want to build a home that feels personal, without paying premium prices for pieces that may not suit our next shared house. Short term solutions for short term situations seems sensible - but under the surface, we can see that it’s not that simple.

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It can often feel overwhelming to consider the climate crisis. Ultimately, we’re just individuals in the face of something incomprehensible. But what we can comprehend is the sheer amount of waste that comes in the pursuit of the new. In 2018, the New York Times reported that H&M had $4.3bn worth of unsold clothes. These threads don't go away. In Accra, Ghana, you can find mountains of unsold fast fashion growing bigger each day. And with the fast fashion industry moving into fast decor, the trend of troublesome waste continues at pace.

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The textiles industry is the second largest polluter of water in the world, largely due to the waste that comes from dyeing fabric. Globally, per year, ninety-two million tonnes of textiles are sent to landfills. And it isn't just the fabric that's a problem - often materials are mixed with chemicals, making recycling difficult. MDF is the wood often used in cheaper homeware materials, and this is not allowed to be recycled in household collections. So, to the dump it goes. We know there’s not a huge appeal in talking rubbish, but it’s undeniably important - that the difficulty of disposal leads to landfills being full. The alternative would be keeping them, but Nicola Holden of Nicola Holden Designs, raises a frightening point. “All of these ‘cheap’ products will off-gas in our homes, emitting toxic chemicals into our indoor environments for up to five years”.  To give credit, H&M, ASOS and Boohoo have all launched initiatives to tackle the amount of waste produced. But given recent controversies about “greenwashing” (misleading claims over sustainability), it's hard to know who to trust.

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And it may feel flippant compared to the scale of the environment, but from an aesthetic angle, fast decor makes it hard to personalise. How can your home feel unique if it’s mass produced, and every house looks like every other house, or every other high street showroom? The pieces are built intending to be replaced; so it’s difficult to picture yourself wanting to keep them around for the years to come (if they survive that long). And if you’re having to replace it every few years, suddenly that cheap piece isn’t so cheap. That’s the cruel Catch-22 - you end up spending more money on things that cost less money, because you’re having to buy them more often. When money's tight, it's sensible to be strict, but homewares should always prioritise quality over quantity. 

The catastrophic consequences to the climate would be devastating regardless, but when you consider that fast decor doesn’t achieve its main goal - to make your home feel like home - we have to ask if there’s a better way. Are we really content with this model of immediate gratification that just becomes abandoned in landfills, both here and half-way around the globe? Casa by Josephine Jenno doesn’t think it has to be this way. That’s why we have curated a collection of unique antiques, stylish selections intended to survive - our Archival Revival goal is to sidestep the destructive nature of fast decor, in favour of something that lasts. 

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