How did I end up with Albert? Let me tell you about a few things I have learned since I started doing this:
- Just like everything, there are trends in furniture. At the moment people are getting rid of large, bulky sofas and buying furniture with more of a mid century feel to them.
- Once they have bought their new sofa (or just decided to get rid of their old one) they put their old leather one up for sale thinking it will have held some of it’s value – it cost over £2000, surely someone will be willing to pay £500 for it? Invariably they don’t sell. The price is unrealistic because the second hand market is flooded with identical unwanted sofas and doesn’t include arranging for the (usually very heavy) sofa to be moved to it’s new home.
- The price of the unwanted sofa will get lower, and sometimes at this point they are bought, but more often than not even a free sofa isn’t enough to outweigh the hassle of getting it moved.
- At this point there is a realisation that instead of making money from their old sofa, they might have to pay someone to take it away. They phone charity shops to see if it could be donated. Unfortunately charity shops have become selective. For a start, every piece of furniture sold must have an attached fire safety label. Often these labels are in an inconvenient place and are cut off by the owner. Secondly, the charity shops don’t want to take on a piece of furniture that they can’t sell because it then costs them money to dispose of it. So even sofas with relatively little damage are rejected.
- After exhausting all the options there are only a few channels left. If they have bought a new sofa, a lot of companies will collect the old one for free. These will then (sometimes) be offered to charity (who are still being selective) or disposed of. If the owner has access to a van, they can take the sofa to the dump themselves or pay a man with a van to do that. Unfortunately, sometimes the sofas don’t even make it to the dump and are abandoned at the side of the road or in a field. The last option is to pay the council for a bulky item collection, which is a chargeable service that some people aren’t prepared to pay for.
Every year in the UK we throw out 1.6 million tonnes of ‘bulky waste’, 42% of which is furniture. A new sofa is the most purchased item of furniture (28% of people in the UK bought one in the last 3 years) and yet only 17% of old sofas are actually reused.
And so there are lots of sofas like Albert. He has had a good life and obviously a bad relationship with a cat at some point in time. With a bit of TLC he could have carried on as a sofa but there are so many other ‘Alberts’ out there no-one is interested in spending the time to get him looking his best again. The leather industry is so damaging, both to the environment and to the people who are exploited to work in it, that to let Albert just be dumped is abhorrent to me. But this story has a happy ending (and if you have made it to the end, well done!!) because Albert is going to have a new life as lots of little Alberts. Watch this space!!
p.s. – unfortunately, I don’t have picture of Albert before he was rescued so this is another unloved and unwanted sofa