We’re on a mission to end disposable furniture.
What is disposable furniture?
Disposable furniture is the stuff you see chucked out on the nature strip a couple of times a year.
Disposable furniture is the shelving unit that after moving house a couple of times, starts to wobble before falling apart completely. It’s the chest of drawers that breaks if you tighten that allen key just a smidge too far. Disposable furniture is the desk that CRACKS loudly and suddenly if you lean on it.
Disposable furniture is usually made from laminates (super thin veneers) stuck onto crappy, weak material – sometimes even cardboard! These veneers are sometimes timber, but often plastic that’s been printed and textured to look like timber.
This disposable furniture is usually made in China, packaged with excessive amounts of polystyrene foam and plastic, and then shipped around the world. You almost couldn’t design a more environmentally destructive way of producing furniture if you tried.
There is a better way.
We believe that it’s up to everyone to do what they can to help reverse climate change, reverse deforestation, and reverse the huge loss of biodiversity, all caused by excessive consumption, woefully inadequate government policies, and poor land management practices.
Whilst the situation we find ourselves in today might not be our generation’s “fault” – pointing blame at previous generations is a futile endeavour whilst the fire is still burning.
We believe the responsibility to put this right shouldn’t just fall on the shoulders of the general population, but of companies too. Not only is it good for the environment and its caretakers, but it’s good for business.
The challenge we face today is huge, but it’s not insurmountable.
It will be hard, but it’s not impossible.
If we all chip in and do what we can, if we praise good behaviour when we see it and call out the bad, if we lead by example in our own lives, in our workplaces, and in our local communities, together we can create a healthier happier Australia, and world, for all.
Our creation story
Ecosium was founded in 2020 during the height of the COVID pandemic here in Australia. The increased public awareness for the importance of personal and planetary health was well and truly in the zeitgeist, however this wasn’t the driving factor to create sustainable flat-pack furniture, that idea had originated much earlier…
Over a decade earlier in 2009, our founder Luke Hopkins came up with the idea of making a table which utilised almost 100% of the material in a standard sheet of plywood (240cm x 120cm if you were wondering), which locked together without any screws, brackets, or glue, and most importantly, could be taken apart and reassembled countless times without becoming wobbly, being thrown out and ending up in landfill like so many of the disposable products on the market today.
For reasons lost to the mystery of time, the idea was filed away until late in 2019 when, facing the dilemma of which adventure to go on next, the idea suddenly popped back into Luke’s head.
Having recently exited the last business he’d co-founded, Luke finally had the opportunity to pursue this idea and after twelve months of sweat and sawdust… Ecosium was born.
I have a vision for a future where we’ve reached a perfect harmony with nature.
The creative pursuits of technology have merged with the undeniable “intelligence” of nature. Where the toil of our daily lives balances our own interests with the interests of creating a better world for all humans. Not just those of your own social class, proximity, colour, language, or ethnicity. Where the measure of success is not put on profits above all else, but on good to humanity, on happiness.
For years we’ve turned our backs on nature. We’ve seen ourselves as better than, as above the “filth”, the apparent disorder, the unintelligent chaos of the natural world. This arrogance has been humanity’s greatest downfall.
As humans, we’re suffering. The privileged are suffering from their own greed and gluttony with man made afflictions like diabetes and obesity. The poor are suffering as a result of the capitalistic greed of the privileged, forced to deal with air pollution, rising sea levels, polluted drinking water and increasingly inhospitable weather events.
But it doesn’t need to be this way.
I see a future where technology and nature work together.
They work together to create objects of modern comfort and luxury in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment, or us. Products and services that don’t steal from the future to gratify the present, but actively help the future for humankind and the earth.
A future where products and services learn from the embodied intelligence of millions of years of evolution of flora and fauna, taking not just inspiration not just in form like we’ve done with velcro, turbulence reduction on wind-turbines, and the design of bullet trains, but from the very cells and structures, the materials which create that form and it’s amazing properties.
Material science of the last few centuries has taken us a long way from nature, however without this journey we wouldn’t be where we are today.
You wouldn’t be reading this on a device which, only a couple of generations ago, was beyond our wildest imaginations if it weren’t for the material science and technology pursued over the last couple of hundred years.
But technology has reached a tipping point.
We’ve collected all the tools and resources humanity needs and we’ve got enough stuff for our journey into the future. Instead of being focused on collecting more and more, it’s now safe for us to focus on better.
Better efficiency, better ethics, better for the environment. We need to get smarter with our products and services. We need to be more critical of our own actions, more contemplative over the effects to others, and more focused than ever on reversing the damage we’ve done to ourselves and to the earth in the relentless pursuit to get us to the now.
So what does a product of the future look like?
The product of the future should be designed to work seamlessly with humanity in its form and function. They need to be designed to last as long as possible.
They need to be designed in a way which you’ll love for as long as possible. Designed in a way where aging adds beauty, it doesn’t steal from it. The product of the future where possible should be designed to grow with you and change as your needs change.
The product of the future should leave no trace. It should be made from material which doesn’t pollute or pillage the earth, or make humans sick.
Materials of the future need to be grown, not mined. They need to be strong when they need to be strong, soft when they need to be soft, and when they don’t need to be anything anymore, they need to decompose back into the ecosystem leaving nothing more than a warm memory.
The product of the future should be manufactured in a way which creates no negative side effects for people or for nature.
Where this is unavoidable for now, any negative side effects should be offset by 200% or more. Why? Because it should hurt when we’re lazy or greedy. Only when there is an unavoidable pain from laziness or greed will there be incentive to innovate to avoid it.
The product of the future needs to be treated with respect. We take care of things that matter to us, but when something is easily or cheaply replaceable, we get lazy.
Own less, but have more pride in what you do own. Take care of it, nurture it, and it will take care of you with decades of service. When something is broken, it needs to be lovingly repaired and a properly designed product of the future will make this process easy.
The End of the Cycle
When the inevitable end of a product’s life has been reached, the product of the future will be easily reabsorbed back into the ecosystem in a way which doesn’t create any damage or pollutants. It will quickly and cleanly disappear, leaving nothing but the aforementioned warm memory.
Why Sustainable Furniture?
Furniture today for the most part is terrible quality. It’s incredibly wasteful and it comes from far far away. The negative impacts our poorly designed and manufactured furniture creates are undeniable, and we’re living and breathing the consequences.
Disposable furniture is poor quality.
Designed to be made as cheaply as possible, today’s furniture is made to look good, but after only a couple of years, or a few moves of house, it starts to wobble, to break, to deteriorate. What happens then – through no fault of your own – the furniture isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do any more, and you’re left with no option other than to throw it out, and buy some more.
Disposable furniture is wasteful.
It’s made from heavily processed materials such as plastics, metal, laminates and polymers. The materials require a tremendous amount of energy to produce and in doing so, create a lot of nasty chemicals, pollution, and waste materials which end up in landfills, waterways, and the atmosphere.
Disposable furniture is made far far away…
It’s a sad reality that most of the world’s goods, including furniture, are made in China. This is fine if you’re Chinese, but insane if you’re not. Just transporting all these products from China to the far reaches of the globe is a significant contributor to the climate catastrophe. This doesn’t even take into account the steel used to produce the ships and shipping containers, or to mine the oil to make the fuel to drive the ships, and so on, ad infinitum.
Tomorrow’s furniture is great quality.
It’s made from sustainable materials that don’t hurt the earth, but help it. It’s designed to last for decades, not just a few years. Tomorrow’s furniture is designed to grow and move with you, to age gracefully.
Tomorrow’s furniture is zero-waste and zero carbon.
It’s manufactured in a way which utilises as much as possible of the raw materials and what can’t be used, gets recycled or re-purposed. It’s made in a way which produces as little carbon pollution as possible, and what carbon is produced, gets offset – by 200% or more. The creation of tomorrow’s furniture helps the world, not hurts it.
Tomorrow’s furniture is made in your own backyard.
Made locally, from local materials, by locals. Tomorrow’s furniture is made in Australia, from timber grown in Australia. And for each tree that gets used, we plant 10 more in its place. By making it locally, we reduce the carbon footprint of it’s freight by 99%. The 1% we do create, you guessed it… we offset that too.