March Recycling Tips – A Tale of Two Chairs

By Bonita Davis, SE Resident and Master Recycler

Every year my ready-to-bloom daphne is the signal that now is the time to start planning what will be growing in the garden and containers in the coming year. Last fall I completed a small, covered deck area in my shady backyard, giving me another incentive to get garden season started.  

Now all I need are some comfy chairs to enjoy the space; chairs that are inviting, can withstand remaining outdoors and undercover year round and that are durable. It’s a tall order and the search has begun.

Fondly, I remember my pair of Adirondack chairs with their matching ottomans. It took repeated trips to Saturday Market before I took the plunge to buy the beautiful handcrafted native cedar chairs from a local woodworker. 

For years they sat as a welcoming pair under the rhododendron in the front yard, then later served as deck chairs. The natural finish was preserved with stains and sealers, then glossy paints in shades of grey, jade green and watermelon red and kept the chairs looking great. 

Underneath the surface, however, our moist climate took its toll. The latex paint bubbled, screws became loose, wood-grain raised and rot began on the legs and seat. After 25+ years, the chairs were re-homed to a skilled woodworker who had plans to repair the damaged parts and transform the chairs into rockers – a win for us all.

What influenced me to spend that sum of money on chairs that are now in their third decade? It was the experience of the chairs I had purchased before the Adirondacks. 

The first was a set of white plastic resin chairs. Deeply discounted, the chairs were ridiculously cheap. I thought I had scored a bargain. By the second season, they had stained, chipped, bent and cracked. 

I replaced them with some trendy mid-century knock-offs made of wire and coated in a bright red rubberized finish. By the end of that summer, the shiny red had faded to a dull whitish pink and veins of rust released brown stains at the soldered joints. 

More critically, both sets of chairs could have caused injuries when a plastic chair leg bent and a metal soldered joint gave way as friends were sitting in them. In less than two years, eight chairs went to the landfill. What a waste of materials, time and money. Those chairs were no bargain!

My intentions are set for my next chairs: Metal (powder coated) or wood, sturdy and comfortable, used or new. Cushions can come later. My preference is for locally-crafted or vended to support our economy. My search will begin in SE Portland with a stop at the garden section at Monticello Antiques, 8600 SE Stark St. Next it’s over to the consignment stores Artifact Creative, 3630 SE Division St., and Village Merchants at 4035 SE Division St.

Something new might be a possibility at Natural Furniture, 7960 SE Stark St. or Portland Nursery, at either 5050 SE Stark St. or 9000 SE Division St. I am already being tempted by their online spring gardening classes. 

I am going to take my time and think this through. It is not an emergency, but a careful decision making process. The new chairs are meant to be with me a long, long time, just as my wonderful Adirondacks were.

March Recycling Tips – A Tale of Two Chairs

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