As we gear up to celebrate another Earth Day, I am reminded of one of the first Earth Day events I enjoyed. It was in NYC’s Central Park on April 22, 1990, with my soon-to-be husband and a collection of lifelong friends. It was sunny, it was Sunday, it was a perfect day.

The first Earth Day occurred 20 years earlier, and this, the 20th anniversary of Earth Day 1990, was when Denis Hayes, one of the movement’s founders, launched an extensive marketing campaign that significantly boosted recycling efforts worldwide, mobilizing a staggering 200 million people in 141 countries.

My friends and I are there somewhere in that crowd, looking just as cool. At least, we all thought so—we were happy in the sun, listening to the B-52s, Edie Brickell, and the Bohemians, along with other great musicians of that time. I can’t figure out why all the photos from this day are black and white; it wasn’t that long ago🙃 Little did I know then that I would become involved in an industry focused on sustainability and pre-owned home furnishings.

I often hear, and even use myself, the expression, buying pre-owned “keeps things from going into landfills,” and the truth is, this is vitally important when it comes to furniture waste. As quoted in Nicolle Portilla’s article “Furniture Waste-The Forgotten Waste Stream..According to the EPA, furniture waste generated by Americans in 2017 totaled a staggering 12.2 million tons, and 80.2% of it went to landfills. The agency also found that only 0.3% of the f-waste that was sent to landfill was recovered for recycling. To make matters worse, furniture waste doesn’t include items like carpets and rugs, which Americans threw away an additional 3.4 million tons in 2017.” The culture of “fast furniture” is partly to blame. These quickly outdated, low-quality items are often discarded when either damaged or unwanted rather than repaired or sold.

With these totally overwhelming numbers, what can you do to help turn this around? I recall a phrase my Dad used to say to me when I was younger and concerned about an overwhelming issue: “Think globally, act locally.” Honestly, this is sound advice for all sorts of situations.

As we all basked in the sunshine in Central Park 34 years ago (wow!), we were starting to recognize the importance of celebrating our planet collectively. Every April 22, I think of that day and wonder what my 24-year-old self would think of what I’m doing now.

Since 2014, I’ve been involved with buying and selling pre-owned home decor, first as one of the founders at The Local Vault and now as a partner with Town & Sea, an online auction and consignment marketplace. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this critical sustainability movement for a decade and am thrilled to see it only gaining momentum—sort of like Earth Day!

Over the past ten years, I have written a few blogs about sustainability and pre-owned home decor, essentially pointing out that it isn’t anything new. Antiques dealers, interior designers, and auction houses have been doing it for centuries. The difference is that at Town & Sea, we source pieces directly from homeowners for auction or consignment and sell them entirely online. Extending the life cycle of beautiful pieces of furniture, new or old, is now a lifelong passion project, and I am thrilled to play a small local part.

One of the best things about buying pre-owned furniture is not only the savings on the items but also the quality of the furniture. The older case pieces like dressers, sideboards, and dining tables were made by true craftsmen with solid wood and dovetail joints. The rich patina these older pieces take on over time is a characteristic that current furniture makers today sometimes try to emulate. These older pieces immediately add a layer of history and beauty to your home.

Think of who may have sat for dinner at the above antique double pedestal table or served themselves at this beautiful antique serpentine buffet below, or who might have written a note to a loved one at this beautifully crafted desk. We know who is enjoying them now, though: some of our very happy and cherished buyers at Town & Sea!

Similarly, with upholstered pieces, when buying new, it is expensive to recreate the quality and superb craftsmanship of older pieces. Again, solid wood, eight-way hand-tied support, and down-filled cushions. When shopping for pre-owned, vintage, or antique seating, be sure to keep in mind that sourcing designer fabric has never been easier. So, if the piece needs a bit of rehab, or the fabric simply doesn’t float your boat, you can easily change it up. Add a skirt or remove one, show off your legs, and hey, if you don’t love their shape, you can change that (oh, if that only translated to the human form, haha!) We will cover the how-to’s for reupholstery in an upcoming blog!

I would be remiss if I did not also mention the great opportunity to buy pre-owned for outdoors. It is springtime, after all! I recently wrote a piece on The American Patio highlighting the marvelous collection of vintage patio sets we are selling. If Palm Royale doesn’t already have you feeling the Palm Beach vibes of the 1970s, this collection sure will. All these pieces are available immediately– recycling is also tres chic!

All this said, we also sell some incredibly well-made newer items at Town & Sea. One of my favorites, and oh, it is so hard to pick one, is this beautiful Hermes Maison Sofa Sellier, listed on our Reserve page. The price tag may initially seem high, but it is 50% off the original retail and in perfect condition. Talk about a handsome piece of furniture, hubba, hubba!

At Town & Sea, we are the happy foster parents of these beautiful pieces until they find their new homes. It is difficult not to fall slightly in love with them. We get so excited when one of our clients finds an item they adore at auction or on consignment; it is like setting up two of your favorite people with a little less drama.

Our current auction, The Classic Charm Collection, has the entire spectrum of pieces, antiques, vintage, and some fantastic new items. Again, in honor of the great outdoors, look at this fantastic outdoor arrangement that will give you and your family hours of fun in the sun. This gorgeous seating set from Restoration Hardware is one of the many pieces to choose from. Only allow a few sunsets on this, though; the auction closes on April 30th!

If you have never participated in an online auction, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have. The same goes if you are looking to sell some of your home furnishings. We are happy to help you find your pieces a new home! Just email us at info@townandsea.com!

One final current favorite of mine is this exceptional Vintage George Jones Majolica Serving Platter, which will go to auction just in time for Mother’s Day! 💗 Note to the Perry boys: pay attention! Also, boys, be thankful that my current home office does not have the space for the aforementioned Hermes Sofa.

If some lucky duck reading this does, feel free to contact us with any questions. H-E-R-M-E-S. Yup, you read correctly; Hermès Maison has a beautiful home collection.

On this Earth Day, all of us at Town & Sea want to thank our sellers and buyers. We are all part of a community that understands the value of a well-made piece of furniture and continuing its life cycle—a circular economy, if you will. We are delighted to help in this endeavor and do our part, both locally and at times nationally, to perpetuate a sustainable practice in efforts to help our beautiful planet Earth. 

In thinking about it, my 24-year-old self would probably think what I am doing now is pretty cool; I know this older self does, and she is thankful beyond words for the company she keeps!

We wish you all a Happy Earth Day!

With gratitude,
Betsy