The world of ecochair

Behind the scenes at ecochair.ch. Our adventures, our successes and sometimes a few little disasters.  Plus lots of great ideas and tips for living a more sustainable life, through second-hand furniture and beyond.

8 Tips for Buying Second-hand Furniture during COVID-19

Posted by Kate Bottriell on

Well, I never imagined I would write that as a blog title! But here were are.

Now that the shock has worn off a bit and this 'new normal' malarkey is setting in, I've moved on from pressing questions such as whether I will run out of toilet paper, to the more important issue of how to buy second-hand furniture from private sellers in a pandemic. The lock-down is slowing starting to ease in some places, but we still don't know what will come next, so we advise taking precautions. 

Here are my top tips:

1. Be respectful

If you go to pick something up from a seller, tell them in advance what precautions you would like to take, and equally, ask them if there are any specific precautions they would like you to take. Not everyone has the same point of view about what the 'right' thing to do is. If you think someone is being too careful, remember that they may have an underlying illness you don't know about. Maybe they have friends or family that are sick or at risk. Don't dismiss their requests for caution, and don't belittle or bully them into doing things they consider risky. 

2. Enjoy the fresh air (stay outside)

If you are buying from a private person, tell the seller that you would like to do the transaction outside of their home. If the weather is good, this can be outside the front door. If you can't avoid bad weather, then ask the seller to do the transaction in a covered outdoor space (overhang, open garage door). Request this in advance. This takes away to risk of coming into contact with doorknobs, handrails, or other potentially contaminated surfaces, reduces the risk of coming into contact with viral particles in stagnant air and also makes it much easier to maintain social distance. 

 

3. When you arrive, use the double-handed 'hello' wave

There is a very strong instinct to want to shake a person's hand that you've just met. Some people will insistently thrust their hand out. I recommend pre-empting them with a double-handed hello wave. Hold your arms about waist height and wave both wrists them at the same time. As a bonus, it looks a bit silly and will break the ice. 

4. Suit up. Wear gloves.

Ok, so we admit there are differing opinions on this, but the bottom line is if you do it right, it can protect you:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands first, before you touch / put the gloves on (this is to prevent you from contaminating the gloves, in case you are unknowingly infectious)
  • Don't touch your face when you are wearing the gloves
  • Take your gloves off carefully, first pull one off, pulling from the fingers, and then protect your bare hand with the inside of the glove, to pull off the other one. 
  • We recommend having a designated glove bag / box that you can just drop them in (like a small lunch bag, open at the top).
  • Take the gloves off again before you touch anything that belongs to you (wallet, phone, car door, trunk). 
  • Wash / sanitize your hands after you have taken the gloves off

You may want to consider using re-usable plastic gloves that can be washed with soap and water and sanitized, or even cloth gloves that can be washed (as long as you have a good system in place to avoid touching them before they have been washed). 

5. Try to pay by contact-less card, or bring exact change

There are an increasing number of apps and online banking options that allow you to make cashless payments. We recommend these. If cash is really the only option, then you can reduce the risk of contamination by preparing exact change in advance and placing it in an envelope several hours in advance. If you expect to negotiate or aren't sure of the final price, be respectful of the seller and ask them whether you should place the money, don't just hand them a fistful of notes. And be conscious of the order in which you take off your gloves, handle your wallet and the money. 

6. Let it be, let it be.

Whether you pick something up or get it delivered, a very easy way to reduce your risk of exposure is to place it out of the way and leave there for a few days. There are a few widely-cited publications, for example in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Hospital Infection and the Lancet: Microbe, with the latest data showing a 2 day lifespan on wood and cloth, and a 4 day lifespan on smooth surfaces like glass, and none after 7 days on plastic or stainless steel. 

7. Wipe it.

If you prefer not to wait, use disinfectant spray or wipes for furniture surfaces such as glass, plastic. Be careful with wood and fabrics and test in an inconspicuous place as you may damage these if you spray them with disinfectant.

8. Walk away if you feel uncomfortable 

If you show up at the seller's home and they are obviously ill, coughing, wheezing, it's OK to leave right away without buying the furniture. Not everyone has the same perception of the risks. Our position is that nothing is worth more than health, so we advise to err on the side of caution, even if you feel a bit silly sometimes. 

Read more

8 Tips for Buying Second-hand Furniture during COVID-19

Posted by Kate Bottriell on

Well, I never imagined I would write that as a blog title! But here were are.

Now that the shock has worn off a bit and this 'new normal' malarkey is setting in, I've moved on from pressing questions such as whether I will run out of toilet paper, to the more important issue of how to buy second-hand furniture from private sellers in a pandemic. The lock-down is slowing starting to ease in some places, but we still don't know what will come next, so we advise taking precautions. 

Here are my top tips:

1. Be respectful

If you go to pick something up from a seller, tell them in advance what precautions you would like to take, and equally, ask them if there are any specific precautions they would like you to take. Not everyone has the same point of view about what the 'right' thing to do is. If you think someone is being too careful, remember that they may have an underlying illness you don't know about. Maybe they have friends or family that are sick or at risk. Don't dismiss their requests for caution, and don't belittle or bully them into doing things they consider risky. 

2. Enjoy the fresh air (stay outside)

If you are buying from a private person, tell the seller that you would like to do the transaction outside of their home. If the weather is good, this can be outside the front door. If you can't avoid bad weather, then ask the seller to do the transaction in a covered outdoor space (overhang, open garage door). Request this in advance. This takes away to risk of coming into contact with doorknobs, handrails, or other potentially contaminated surfaces, reduces the risk of coming into contact with viral particles in stagnant air and also makes it much easier to maintain social distance. 

 

3. When you arrive, use the double-handed 'hello' wave

There is a very strong instinct to want to shake a person's hand that you've just met. Some people will insistently thrust their hand out. I recommend pre-empting them with a double-handed hello wave. Hold your arms about waist height and wave both wrists them at the same time. As a bonus, it looks a bit silly and will break the ice. 

4. Suit up. Wear gloves.

Ok, so we admit there are differing opinions on this, but the bottom line is if you do it right, it can protect you:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands first, before you touch / put the gloves on (this is to prevent you from contaminating the gloves, in case you are unknowingly infectious)
  • Don't touch your face when you are wearing the gloves
  • Take your gloves off carefully, first pull one off, pulling from the fingers, and then protect your bare hand with the inside of the glove, to pull off the other one. 
  • We recommend having a designated glove bag / box that you can just drop them in (like a small lunch bag, open at the top).
  • Take the gloves off again before you touch anything that belongs to you (wallet, phone, car door, trunk). 
  • Wash / sanitize your hands after you have taken the gloves off

You may want to consider using re-usable plastic gloves that can be washed with soap and water and sanitized, or even cloth gloves that can be washed (as long as you have a good system in place to avoid touching them before they have been washed). 

5. Try to pay by contact-less card, or bring exact change

There are an increasing number of apps and online banking options that allow you to make cashless payments. We recommend these. If cash is really the only option, then you can reduce the risk of contamination by preparing exact change in advance and placing it in an envelope several hours in advance. If you expect to negotiate or aren't sure of the final price, be respectful of the seller and ask them whether you should place the money, don't just hand them a fistful of notes. And be conscious of the order in which you take off your gloves, handle your wallet and the money. 

6. Let it be, let it be.

Whether you pick something up or get it delivered, a very easy way to reduce your risk of exposure is to place it out of the way and leave there for a few days. There are a few widely-cited publications, for example in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Hospital Infection and the Lancet: Microbe, with the latest data showing a 2 day lifespan on wood and cloth, and a 4 day lifespan on smooth surfaces like glass, and none after 7 days on plastic or stainless steel. 

7. Wipe it.

If you prefer not to wait, use disinfectant spray or wipes for furniture surfaces such as glass, plastic. Be careful with wood and fabrics and test in an inconspicuous place as you may damage these if you spray them with disinfectant.

8. Walk away if you feel uncomfortable 

If you show up at the seller's home and they are obviously ill, coughing, wheezing, it's OK to leave right away without buying the furniture. Not everyone has the same perception of the risks. Our position is that nothing is worth more than health, so we advise to err on the side of caution, even if you feel a bit silly sometimes. 

Read more


Everything is upside down

Posted by Kate Bottriell on

It's hard to know what to write, so much has changed so fast.

Some of you have got The Virus or have friends that have. Many of us are acutely feeling the distance from older parents who are an ocean away. So, instead of our usual newsletter, we decided to make you a 'chair yoga' video, to bring you a little bit of zen. 

Read more

Everything is upside down

Posted by Kate Bottriell on

It's hard to know what to write, so much has changed so fast.

Some of you have got The Virus or have friends that have. Many of us are acutely feeling the distance from older parents who are an ocean away. So, instead of our usual newsletter, we decided to make you a 'chair yoga' video, to bring you a little bit of zen. 

Read more


Furniture Make-overs: We're getting hands-on

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

This week, our team had the pleasure of running a hands-on workshop in collaboration with the Impact Hub Basel, where we shared tips and ideas on turning ‘tired’ furniture into ‘fresh and fabulous’. It was great to see some of you there, thanks for coming! For those of you who missed it, Kate interviewed Tobias from Kyburz Made, who spoke about his business, shared some challenges, and brought in a guh-OR-geous piece as an example of how they upcycle old SBB wooden crates into stunning, high-quality, unique furniture (I’m in love).

Read more

Furniture Make-overs: We're getting hands-on

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

This week, our team had the pleasure of running a hands-on workshop in collaboration with the Impact Hub Basel, where we shared tips and ideas on turning ‘tired’ furniture into ‘fresh and fabulous’. It was great to see some of you there, thanks for coming! For those of you who missed it, Kate interviewed Tobias from Kyburz Made, who spoke about his business, shared some challenges, and brought in a guh-OR-geous piece as an example of how they upcycle old SBB wooden crates into stunning, high-quality, unique furniture (I’m in love).

Read more


Reflection, renewal and of course fabulous furniture

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

Happy 2020, furniture lovers--

I don't know about you but usually after New Year's, January just becomes a depressing, dark and long month, where I am hard-pressed to put on my workout clothes in the wee hours of morning. 

Speaking of goals, I read a recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation that 2019 was the 2nd hottest year on record, and the last five years the hottest on record...gulp! 

Read more

Reflection, renewal and of course fabulous furniture

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

Happy 2020, furniture lovers--

I don't know about you but usually after New Year's, January just becomes a depressing, dark and long month, where I am hard-pressed to put on my workout clothes in the wee hours of morning. 

Speaking of goals, I read a recent report from the World Meteorological Organisation that 2019 was the 2nd hottest year on record, and the last five years the hottest on record...gulp! 

Read more


Have Yourself a Green Christmas

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

Hello, festive furniture lovers--

It's a busy and beautiful time to be in Basel, isn't it?  With Herbstmesse just finished and the Christmas Markets about to open, there is a festive flair that takes the city's energy up a notch. As the holiday decorations appear, I find myself getting into the spirit and thinking about this 'season of giving.'

I don't know about you but I get stressed out about 'too much stuff.'  And the thought of buying gifts that people don’t need—just because it’s Christmas—actually makes me a crazy. And yet the tradition of exchanging gifts is so rooted in our culture, and I have such happy memories associated with Christmas, it's been difficult for me to find a gift-giving solution that sits well with my environmentalist soul.

So, what to do? Well, several years ago I came up with a solution and began spreading the word among my gift-giving family. I basically said, if we are going to exchange gifts, why not fit them into one of the following categories: you can eat it, drink it, or experience it. Right?!

****

Last year I saw this posting on Facebook called ‘The Ethical Hierarchy of Gift Purchasing,’ which offered up a few more sustainable living gift ideas.

Basically, the gift giving hierarchy goes a little something like this:

On top…Give memories. Things like event tickets, experience days or memberships make unique, memorable gifts that can be tailor-made for each person on your list. Think plays, concerts, art classes, karate lessons…there is a super fun bouldering gym in Grenzach that we go to—quality time for the whole family!—that would fit the bill nicely for your more active or adventurous peeps.

Below that we have, Give your time. Do you have skills you can offer to a friend or family member? For instance, are you a hair dresser, interior decorator, massage therapist, web designer, baby sitter? Personally, with the cost of hiring a babysitter, it would be no small thing to offer your sister with two kids a night out with her partner so they can both stay sane—and married. Y'know what I’m saying?

Next up, Upcycle. If you’re crafty, you can give a one-of-a-kind piece of refurbished furniture, or repurpose some old toys. Not only will people be amazed and appreciative of your mind-blowing skills, but their compliments to you will make you all feel-good-y inside. It’s a gift for them and you. And if you love this idea but are not crafty, we have a few very cool potential gifts (which aren't chairs or tables), such as amazing creative art lamps from old bike parts, re-purposed wine barrels, jewellery holders and other home deco items in our webshop.

Buy second-hand. Tutti, Ricardo, Ebay as well as physical shops like brockenhauses and antique shops offer such a variety of everything. Online, locating rare, special, or vintage items is easy—or easier—just by typing in a few key words. And you can do it while sipping a hot toddy in your underwear to boot! You can shop ecochair.ch this way as well—but please, if you stop by our showroom, consider dressing in full garb. Danke!

Make. Again, maybe you’re crafty or a fabulous baker. Share those skills, my friend! Knit someone some fingerless gloves, or bake up some homemade pumpkin bread. Trust me, no one will be bummed they didn’t get another candle.

Buy ethical. You know the drill…fair-trade, organic, sweat-shop free… “Change Maker" in Schifflände is a beautiful shop with an impressive array of ethical gifts. The Basel Christmas markets have some beautiful, hand-crafted, high-quality items, which can be perused with Glühwein in hand. And our friends at Unico Market will be running their next event on Dec 21st at Restaurant Union, showcasing local entrepreneurs in fashion, art and design, if you need some last minute gifts.

And of course, when it comes to wrapping up these eco gifts, get creative on waste-free ways…use fabric you might have laying around or pre-used gift wrap or bags.

And I know…you may be feeling reticent to give up your own tradition of putting on Christmas music and singing loudly while rolling out gold and red santa paper, taping on elaborate ribbons and bows, and hearing the crunch of cellophane around gift baskets…But trust me. It’s just as fun—and sustainable for generations to come—to do it in a waste-free way. You won’t miss a thing. Good luck and have fun!

(only 40 days until Christmas)

Carrie and the ecochair.ch team

Read more

Have Yourself a Green Christmas

Posted by Carrie Aikman on

Hello, festive furniture lovers--

It's a busy and beautiful time to be in Basel, isn't it?  With Herbstmesse just finished and the Christmas Markets about to open, there is a festive flair that takes the city's energy up a notch. As the holiday decorations appear, I find myself getting into the spirit and thinking about this 'season of giving.'

I don't know about you but I get stressed out about 'too much stuff.'  And the thought of buying gifts that people don’t need—just because it’s Christmas—actually makes me a crazy. And yet the tradition of exchanging gifts is so rooted in our culture, and I have such happy memories associated with Christmas, it's been difficult for me to find a gift-giving solution that sits well with my environmentalist soul.

So, what to do? Well, several years ago I came up with a solution and began spreading the word among my gift-giving family. I basically said, if we are going to exchange gifts, why not fit them into one of the following categories: you can eat it, drink it, or experience it. Right?!

****

Last year I saw this posting on Facebook called ‘The Ethical Hierarchy of Gift Purchasing,’ which offered up a few more sustainable living gift ideas.

Basically, the gift giving hierarchy goes a little something like this:

On top…Give memories. Things like event tickets, experience days or memberships make unique, memorable gifts that can be tailor-made for each person on your list. Think plays, concerts, art classes, karate lessons…there is a super fun bouldering gym in Grenzach that we go to—quality time for the whole family!—that would fit the bill nicely for your more active or adventurous peeps.

Below that we have, Give your time. Do you have skills you can offer to a friend or family member? For instance, are you a hair dresser, interior decorator, massage therapist, web designer, baby sitter? Personally, with the cost of hiring a babysitter, it would be no small thing to offer your sister with two kids a night out with her partner so they can both stay sane—and married. Y'know what I’m saying?

Next up, Upcycle. If you’re crafty, you can give a one-of-a-kind piece of refurbished furniture, or repurpose some old toys. Not only will people be amazed and appreciative of your mind-blowing skills, but their compliments to you will make you all feel-good-y inside. It’s a gift for them and you. And if you love this idea but are not crafty, we have a few very cool potential gifts (which aren't chairs or tables), such as amazing creative art lamps from old bike parts, re-purposed wine barrels, jewellery holders and other home deco items in our webshop.

Buy second-hand. Tutti, Ricardo, Ebay as well as physical shops like brockenhauses and antique shops offer such a variety of everything. Online, locating rare, special, or vintage items is easy—or easier—just by typing in a few key words. And you can do it while sipping a hot toddy in your underwear to boot! You can shop ecochair.ch this way as well—but please, if you stop by our showroom, consider dressing in full garb. Danke!

Make. Again, maybe you’re crafty or a fabulous baker. Share those skills, my friend! Knit someone some fingerless gloves, or bake up some homemade pumpkin bread. Trust me, no one will be bummed they didn’t get another candle.

Buy ethical. You know the drill…fair-trade, organic, sweat-shop free… “Change Maker" in Schifflände is a beautiful shop with an impressive array of ethical gifts. The Basel Christmas markets have some beautiful, hand-crafted, high-quality items, which can be perused with Glühwein in hand. And our friends at Unico Market will be running their next event on Dec 21st at Restaurant Union, showcasing local entrepreneurs in fashion, art and design, if you need some last minute gifts.

And of course, when it comes to wrapping up these eco gifts, get creative on waste-free ways…use fabric you might have laying around or pre-used gift wrap or bags.

And I know…you may be feeling reticent to give up your own tradition of putting on Christmas music and singing loudly while rolling out gold and red santa paper, taping on elaborate ribbons and bows, and hearing the crunch of cellophane around gift baskets…But trust me. It’s just as fun—and sustainable for generations to come—to do it in a waste-free way. You won’t miss a thing. Good luck and have fun!

(only 40 days until Christmas)

Carrie and the ecochair.ch team

Read more