Going Green with Couch Slipcovers

How you can use couch slipcovers to save an old sofa ... and go green at the same time!

If there’s still life left in your furniture but it’s beginning to look past its best, rather than throw it away, why not use slipcovers? That way you can do your bit to help the planet, save money by not buying brand new furniture and update your home’s appearance.

We live in a disposable society where it’s common to see old couches left out for the garbage, just because the owners no longer like the color or decide the fabric’s unfashionable. A lot of furniture that’s thrown out is still perfectly usable, just may not look as bright or stylish as it once did. All those sofas and armchairs sent to landfill sites will contribute to global climate change as the huge pile of waste rots and releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Toxic chemicals from landfills can leach into groundwater and pollute it, having an adverse impact on wildlife and the environment.

Fortunately, the concept of “freecycling” – giving away unwanted items to people who can reuse them – is becoming popular. As well as benefiting the environment by keeping stuff out of landfill, reusing secondhand furniture can help you furnish your home for a lot less too. Of course, if someone is kind enough to give you an old couch for free, you can’t be picky about what it looks like! A sofa may be really comfortable to sit on, but be covered in horrible fabric. So, you will need to be creative and extend its life by giving it a DIY makeover with a slipcover.

Eco-friendly products have an image problem, with many people still thinking they cost more than conventional items. But being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be expensive. Neither does the “make do and mend” attitude of the green movement mean that your home has to look like a mishmash of junk shop finds! Chair and sofa slipcovers are a green compromise, allowing you to fix up old furniture on a limited budget, whilst making your home look inviting and attractive.

Pre-made furniture covers are not usually made from recycled materials or organic fabrics. However, there is less energy involved in making a slipcover than in the manufacturer of a new sofa, so they have less environmental impact. When you think about the carbon footprint of replacing an old sofa with a new one – the energy used in manufacture and delivery, as well as the disposal of the old one – slipcovers are the greener option. Using a slipcover on your furniture is also cheaper than re-doing the upholstery, and removable slipcovers have the advantage of being washable, so they can be cleaned and reused again and again.

Ready made slipcovers are ideal for recycling sofas, loveseats or chairs that may otherwise be thrown out. They can be used to hide faded, worn or stained upholstery or to coordinate a collection of mismatched furniture and therefore give your whole room a smart new look. They are also useful for simply changing the color of your seats, whether as part of seasonal decorating or if you paint your walls a different color and want your furniture to blend in.

Don’t be deterred by one-size-fits-all slipcovers. Although sofas and chairs don’t come in standard sizes, with a little ingenuity, it’s possible to get a slipcover to fit most furniture. One of the most common issues is slipcovers that are slightly too big and baggy. To overcome this and to get a neater fit, you can buy plastic grippers, or make your own by tucking some rolled up magazines into the gaps around your seat edges to hold the cover in place. Any wrinkles in the fabric can be dealt with by spraying them lightly with water, using a plant mister, then smoothing them out by hand. Another way to get a slipcover to fit better on furniture with wooden or narrow arms is to use old towels or blankets to add padding before fitting a slipcover over the top.

If every slipcover that’s bought keeps a sofa or chair out of landfill, this is surely a good thing for the planet. Living a green lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to “make do” with tatty-looking old furniture. With a little resourcefulness, you can get creative with slipcovers and give your furniture a stylish new lease of life, furnishing your home for a fraction of the cost of a new sofa and helping the environment at the same time.