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Reporter uncovers mind-blowing and little-discussed side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: '[It] would boggle your mind'

"Really frustrating."

Side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, abandoned office furniture

Photo Credit: iStock

A real estate reporter for The New York Times, Stefanos Chen (@stefanoschen), tweeted a link to an article he wrote about how office furniture in NYC "has been caught in pandemic limbo."

According to Chen, about three years after the COVID-19 crisis began, approximately half of the office space in the Big Apple has "raised existential, economic, and cultural questions."

Chen said much of the unused furniture has headed to the auction block, a liquidator, or a landfill, the latter of which is its most likely destination.

He also stated that around "2,000 midsize companies in the region, from law firms to tech startups, have stored office equipment in [Dumbo Moving and Storage]'s three New Jersey warehouses" since the onset of the pandemic.  

Lior Rachmany, the chief executive of Dumbo, told the Times that "[we have] never seen so many Herman Miller chairs," referring to the prestigious brand of furniture. 

In 2018, about 12 million tons of furniture ended up as waste in the U.S. alone. Around 80% of this furniture has ended up in landfills. 

On a global scale, as countries and cities become more developed and grow in population, the amount of waste they produce is expected to increase. 

According to the World Bank, the waste generated is predicted to go up from almost 2.2 billion tons in 2016 to close to 3.7 billion tons in 2050. 

Right now, at least 33% of this waste is not properly managed and is either dumped in open areas or burned, and that includes furniture waste.

According to David Esterlit, the owner of OHR Home Office Solutions, a New York City-based refurbishing company, "the amount of waste in this industry would boggle your mind."  

For individuals, an effective way of reducing furniture waste is to donate your furnishings instead of throwing it away. 

Conversely, we can also find secondhand furniture instead of buying it new — you can sometimes get lucky and find amazing deals at thrift shops.

People had plenty to say about Chen's post. 

"Thanks for the great piece, Stefanos, and for bringing attention to the problem we've been working on for more than a decade!" replied Green Standards (@GreenStandards), a company that redistributes used office furniture and equipment. 

"Really frustrating. I have to believe that most high schools would be so grateful to have these chairs — I know I would!" added Twitter user Jody Hackmeyer (@NJDawgteach).

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