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Quality or quantity

The clothes we wear, the furniture we sit on and the items we use throughout our lives take their toll on our savings and overall wealth. Not to mention the environment. Here’s how you can make long term choices, whether you’re investing in fashion, furniture or home decoration.

This season, go for quality and go green

The fashion industry thrives on telling people what the must-have items are from one season to the next. This season, help direct the conversation away from impulsive purchases to more considered, quality choices that are also more sustainable.

This begins with your fabric choices. Instead of purchasing a suit made with synthetic fabric that may only last a season, invest in a wool suit in classic styles and colours that you can wear for years to come. Cutting back on your consumerism reduces waste and saves you money in the long term.

The fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint. From the pesticides used to grow cotton to the chemicals found in fabric dyes, choosing organic fibres or sustainable fabrics, such as those made from bamboo or hemp, will significantly reduce the toll your clothing takes on the environment. Finding timeless, durable pieces will also mean your wardrobe is more distinctive and unique.

Earth-friendly furniture

When it comes to investing in furniture, there are a number of products on the market to look out for.

Wood is the obvious choice. It’s durable and is easily maintained — lessening the chance of it ending up in landfill and saving you money in the long run. Make sure you know where it comes from. Check for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label; this ensures the product you’re buying is made from responsibly sourced wood.

Many furniture designers are using reclaimed wood in their products, sourced from old furniture or houses. Also look out for designers making the most of recycled metals and plastics, which lowers the demand for new materials and lessens the impact on the environment.

You could also invest in quality antique or vintage furniture that can be preserved, restored and potentially be a valuable asset that you could sell or pass on to your children — leaving a long lasting legacy.

Home sweet home

Making purchases for your home means considering the environmental and social impacts of manufacturing and the longevity of your items.

Here are a few key things to keep front of mind when making purchases for the home:

Aim to purchase high-quality products such as durable carpet, lounge suites and curtains. You may pay more up front but they’ll retain their value, last longer and have less of an impact on the environment.

  • Look out for the energy rating on appliances such as washing machines, fridges, ovens and TVs.
  • Buy local — this not only keeps Australian producers in business, but also reduces the environmental cost of shipping.
  • Buy and sell second-hand products — donating items to charity and buying used products reduces the amount of items that go to landfill. This, in turn, can reduce the manufacturing demand for some products.

Grant Featherston chair

Grant Featherston was a famous Australian designer, best known for designing furniture. In 1955 the National Gallery of Victoria paid £14/1/6 ($28.15) for a Grant Featherston chair.

In 1955 this was an expensive chair but it has more than held its value since then. A chair like this was recently advertised for sale at $4,000. This represents an increase in value of 14 per cent per year comparing favourably to the rate of inflation which only increased by 4.6 per cent per year over the same period.*

Buying high-quality items might seem extravagant at the time but in years to come they may hold their value better than cheaper alternatives.

The purchasing decisions you make affect your wallet but they can also affect the planet.

 

Grant Featherston (designer) EMERSON BROS PTY LTD, Melbourne (manufacturer)

R152 Contour chair (designed — 1950); (manufactured — 1951) hardwood, plywood, linen, (other materials)

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased, 1955

1532-D4

© Grant Featherston/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia

 

* RBA inflation calculator

 

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