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Antiques move into the spotlight for greener living

Commissioned by members of the antiques trade, extensive independent research finally puts a figure on just how eco-friendly buying antiques can be.

The analysis compared the greenhouse gas emissions produced during the lifespan of two chest of drawers; one constructed in 1830 with an assumed lifespan of 195 years during which time it has been restored and sold twice and, the other, a new piece of similar value available from a reputable high street retailer with an assumed lifespan of 15 years. The detailed report focuses on all stages of each product’s lifecycle: from the sourcing of materials to the manufacturing processes, the transportation to the storage and finally to the disposal.

Antiques not only provide unique style and value for money but, as this report confirms with the pieces used for the research, the annual emissions of an antique piece can be as little as one sixteenth of those of its new equivalent.

In order to compare the footprint of the products based on their lifespan, the carbon footprint per year of use was calculated. This showed that the antique product has an annual carbon footprint of 0.72kg CO2e, whereas the new product has a footprint per year of use of 11.36kg CO2e. Therefore, a new chest of drawers will have a carbon impact sixteen times higher than an antique chest of drawers.

Nigel Worboys, founder of Antiques are Green Campaign and who spearheaded the research says “We launched the website www.antiquesaregreen.org last year to help communicate what ‘the trade’, had been thinking for quite a while. We’re delighted to have our thoughts confirmed - 16 times over! Buying antiques reduces landfill, reduces carbon emissions, reduces consumption of new goods from abroad and, preserves our heritage for future generations.”

Mark Hill, co-presenter of the BBC’s Cracking Antiques and an expert on the Antiques Roadshow comments “There has never been a better time to buy antiques – not only  do they provide us with excellent value for money and the opportunity to create our own individual style but they also enable us to help the environment through ‘glamorous  recycling’ as confirmed by the facts in this insightful report.”

The study was conducted by Carbon Clear, an independent consultancy specialising in carbon management and carbon accounting. Click here for a full copy of the report.