Why does plastic furniture become popular trend
There are so many things that we do not know about plastic.
For the longest time, plastic has had a very bad rep among so many people – environmentalists, politicians, scientists, medical practitioners, and so many others.
However, not too many people know the myriad benefits that plastic has to offer to everyone, so much so that even up to this day, plastic remains to be one of the most ubiquitous materials that people all over the world use. In fact, many people will probably never learn to live a plastic-free life. And that is not bad, at all!
This begs the question – can plastic be eco-friendly? If yes, how?
Take the case of plastic furniture such as chairs and tables. How can they be eco-friendly? Furthermore, what are the benefits of buying plastic furniture instead of buying furniture made of wood or metal?
Let us begin counting the ways…
- Plastic Helps in Reducing Waste
Yes, you heard that right. Plastic indeed helps greatly in reducing waste. For one, it can easily be recycled. You may actually buy anything made of plastic and let it serve a myriad of purposes at home or in the workplace. Take the case of plastic furniture such as chairs. These plastic chairs would blend perfectly well either in the home or in the workplace. Moreover, they are guaranteed to last much longer than other materials. Adding everything together, plastic not only saves or conserves resources in the long run, but it also helps in reducing waste – unlike a rotten wooden chair or a metallic chair corroded by rust.
- Plastic Saves Money
Plastic furniture, for instance, offers great value for money because not only is it more affordable compared to furniture made from other materials, it also tends to last longer than other differently-made furniture. Indeed, plastic is the way to go for consumers who are on a budget or those who would like their furniture to last until the next generations.
- Plastic Utilizes Less Oil.
One of the many measures of how environmentally-friendly a product is would be its consumption of one of the world’s most precious but highly limited resource – oil. Truth to tell, plastic does not utilize much oil. This is especially true with eco-plastic or eco-friendly plastic. Drilling oil destroys the environment, especially our oceans. Needless to say, the more oil we need, the more we destroy the environment. Hence, it is much better to patronize products that consume less oil. Our plastic chairs would be an excellent example when it comes to this.
- Plastic Lends a Hand Towards Better Business Practices
Now that the many benefits of plastic have been discussed, there has to be a significant paradigm shift on the part of consumers and business owners when it comes to their impression about the use of plastic. There has to be a concerted effort to make plastic more eco-friendly because it is also an undeniable fact that the contemporary world cannot live without using plastic. It is simply a part of everyone and a tool to help all of us lead convenient and efficient lives. Furthermore, it is also important to note that the eco-friendly use of plastic also involves recycling and proper storage and disposal.
As for plastic furniture, like chairs for instance, it is all the more eco-friendly because they do not contribute towards deforestation and the continued diminishing of our resources. It lasts for a long time and is very easy to serve a variety of purposes, which is central towards the habit of recycling.
Indeed, one can never go wrong with buying plastic furniture – you will love it and you will love the environment in return.
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Coney Island has its Cyclone, the American Museum of Natural History its dinosaurs, MoMA its Picassos. At the Tenement Museum, what elicits thrills these days is the 1960s plastic-covered sofa and armchair in our recreation of Ramonita Rivera Saez’s parlor. The furniture serves as a paean to this sociable Puerto Rican garment worker, who raised her children (and helped raise her grandchildren), embraced the Catholic community at St Teresa’s, and—as “matriarch of the building”—welcomed successive waves of immigrant families to 103 Orchard Street.
Visitors exploring our recently opened Under One Roof exhibit revel in the memories evoked by the shiny squeakiness of this plastic-covered furniture: “My great aunt had a sofa like this!”; “My grandmother covered her furniture too!”; “This brings back memories.” Plastic-covered furniture resonates for Puerto Ricans, Jews and African Americans, as it does for Americans of Chinese, Irish, and Italian origin. Those seat covers are a common denominator of 1960s and 1970s American family life and identity.
Many Americans who took seats on plastic covered furniture understood how migrations shaped their families. Some were the children and grandchildren of Eastern and Southern Europeans who came in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries before being stopped by the 1924 race-based immigration quotas. Some were among the refugees brought in by the Displaced Persons and Refugee Act of 1948. Some were those whose families had undertaken migrations from one region of the United States to another, from Puerto Rico to New York, from North Carolina to Brooklyn, from Mississippi to Milwaukee. In 1965 Congress passed the Hart Celler Immigration Reform Act, lifting race-based quotas and bringing Civil Rights Era ideals to immigration policy, expanding the idea of who could become American and enabling Asians, Africans and others to take seats on plastic-covered furniture.
Under One Roof focuses on how three families—the Epsteins, Saez-Velezes, and the Wongs—started over at 103 Orchard. They found work in the garment industry and raised their children on a Lower East Side that had become one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods. Their memories shed light on American identity and pluralism, its messiness and its beauty.
Individual homes allowed families to maintain their distinct traditions even as they gave them the space to learn how to negotiate the cultural and linguistic barriers their migrations exposed. The same record player in the Epstein home played cantorial music for Kalman and Rivka, and Paul Anka hits for Bella. Seated on their plastic-covered couch, Ramonita’s boys did their English homework, but by the 1960s also watched Spanish language stations 41 and 47. The Wong children had a desk where they worked on their public school and Chinese school assignments; they also devoured Marvel comic books and enjoyed The Love Boat and Charlie’s Angels. In shared hallways families learned that being American was also about living with neighbors who came from other traditions. The three families experienced diversity daily through the cooking aromas emanating from airshafts, the foreign language conversations overheard in hallways, and the accented-English pleasantries they exchanged with neighbors in the stairway. Tenements schooled residents in shared living.
Conflicts, tensions and insensitivities inevitably arose as families adapted to their new lives. Coming home after a long day of factory work, Ramonita couldn’t decipher PS 42’s English-only notices. Her son, Andy Velez, remembers Italian boys chasing him when he crossed Chrystie Street. Bella Epstein recalls how her Catholic friend and neighbor, Rosetta, abruptly told Bella her parents weren’t invited to a party because they were Jewish. In the fifth grade, Yat Chung Wong became “Kevin” when his teacher distributed a list of “American” names and instructed Chinese students to adopt one before the bell rang. On a larger scale, neighborhood conflicts over control of the schools and housing resources fell out along ethnic lines, exacerbating tensions.
Despite the tensions and misunderstandings that separated them, people also overcame differences to form crucial ties on a daily basis. Andy and Jose Velez joined a Little Italy Boy Scout troop that made Andy a leader. Jose honed his carpentry skills under the tutelage of an Amish teacher, and turned on Sabbath lights at neighborhood synagogues. Rosetta’s abrupt declaration of family prejudices did not dent the hours of playtime that bonded her and Bella. Bella also befriended Barbara, the African-American girl she met at the park who became her favorite checkers partner. Kevin Wong speaks admiringly of Ramonita, who moved beyond her Spanish-language comfort zone to use English and made welcoming conversation in the halls with Chinese families. As well, the Velez brothers recall how neighbors brought them red envelopes and pastries on the Chinese New Year.
As our country debates immigration, we still have much to learn from the tenements, and how our own daily experiences, and those of our ancestors, help shed light on an American identity that is dynamic and complex. Living under one roof and being part of a diverse country is not easy: its messiness and complexities demand constant discussion, negotiation and reflection. The Epstein, Velez and Wong children and grandchildren became nurses, doctors, soldiers, contractors, teachers, IT directors, lawyers, school administrators, and government employees, experiencing moderate economic mobility. Though they’ve left 103 Orchard, they’ve kept its lessons, cherishing an American identity that encompasses people of all backgrounds, religious and skin colors. They remind us that the American Dream has always been as much a spiritual as a material quest, a hope that our strength as a nation derives from the experience of people of all backgrounds living among one another.
We invite you to take a seat on Ramonita’s plastic covered sofa, and consider how your family stories contribute to our country’s ever evolving identity.
Why does plastic furniture become popular trend
Ode to a Plastic Covered Couch
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