Minnesota-based startup Yardbird makes affordable outdoor furniture from ocean plastic - it has intercepted more than 100,000 pounds to date
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- Yardbird is an outdoor furniture startup with an environmental conscience, making stylish and affordably priced pieces from intercepted ocean plastic.
- The hand-woven wicker used in Yardbird furniture incorporates plastic collected from beaches in the Philippines. It's the company's way of helping you enjoy the outdoors with a material that would otherwise hurt the earth and take away from that enjoyment.
- While comparable sectional sets can cost around $5,000, Yardbird's costs less than $2,500. They look just as good and are durable and weather-resistant.
As the weather warms up again, it just doesn't feel right to spend all night after work or all weekend staying cooped up inside.
We're not saying you need to go far in order to enjoy the warm sun and refreshing breeze. If you have a backyard, you can have a wonderful and relaxing time right outside your home, with a drink and book in hand, or friends and neighbors on speed dial.
Until recently, the new companies entering the direct-to-consumer space focused on all the things that go inside your home - mattresses, sheets and towels, cookware, furniture, and the like. Considering we spend the majority of our time indoors, whether we're cooking, sleeping, or relaxing, this makes sense, but if you wanted a new store to improve your outdoor space, it was difficult to find.
Yardbird, founded in 2017 by a father-son duo, is the direct-to-consumer outdoor furniture company you've been looking for. Evidently, it's what other people have been, too, because it sold out of $1 million worth of inventory less than a month into its launch. In 2018, it sold out of $4 million of inventory a few months into the year.
Yardbird's start and how its furniture is made
Fascinated by why high-end furniture companies were charging at least $5,000 for an outdoor wicker sectional, cofounder Jay Dillon talked to his father (who had experience in the furniture industry) and eventually ended up in factories in Asia, where over 95% of all outdoor furniture is manufactured. There, he was quoted products at one-seventh the retail price, and he knew there was potential for a business.
What makes Yardbird even more noteworthy isn't only that it sells high-quality and stylish outdoor furniture for less. It's that the pieces are sustainable, made from intercepted ocean plastic.
As outdoors lovers who wanted to enjoy these outdoors for years to come, the Minnesota-based founders sought to create products that reduced human impact on the planet. Dillon had heard of large brands incorporating recycled plastics into their products, but discovered the process took too many steps and plastic resale prices were too high.
Instead, he met directly with plastic experts and established relationships with a recycling plant in the Philippines. Together, they spent 2.5 years collecting plastic from beaches, waterways, and other susceptible locations in the Philippines.
According to Dillon, this is how the plastic goes from floating by the shore to a piece of Yardbird furniture:
"After the recycling plant processes the plastic, we then ship it to our wicker extrusion plant and make all-weather outdoor resin wicker out of the plastic, and then hand weave it onto the frames."
Though it may look like traditional wicker, Yardbird's wicker contains 50% recycled plastic and lasts longer. As an eco-friendly company, Yardbird also partners with Carbon Fund to offset 100% of its carbon footprint, and its packaging contains 50% recycled materials.
Read more: 11 smarter buys that can help curb your plastic bottle use - from a $32 reusable water bottle to a $210 filtration system
Durability and quality to withstand the outdoors
Outside of the all-weather wicker, the other components of the furniture are also strong and long-lasting, and backed by impressive warranties.
The commercial-grade aluminum frames (which come with a 10-year warranty) are lightweight and rust-proof. The foam cushions are comfortable and supportive, and they're covered in a high-performance outdoor textile called Sunbrella that's water- and sun-resistant. To take a closer look at this fabric, you can order up to three free swatches from the site.
How to shop at Yardbird
Other services and policies to make shopping for these large furniture items easy and convenient are the 30-day return policy and free curbside delivery on orders over $1,500 (a flat rate of $95 applies otherwise). Shopping for outdoor furniture is a significant commitment, but Yardbird makes it less of a headache from start to finish, from offering curated collections of high-quality furniture to care and maintenance tips once you have your piece.
On its site, you can shop by Collection, which categorizes furniture by style, or Type, such as Loveseats, Sectional Furniture, and Dining Furniture.
If you're ready for new outdoor furniture that will allow you to enjoy your backyard and don't want to wonder whether it'll hold up until summer of next year, you should check out the stylish options from Yardbird. We've also rounded up a variety of best sellers and favorites from the startup below.
Shop all outdoor furniture at Yardbird here
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A classic wicker sectional with a modular design
Rounded sofas to gather around a warm fire pit
A sofa set with a handsome, faux-weathered teak finish
A six-person dining set with the same finish
Swivel chairs to enjoy an intimate conversation outdoors
A sturdy yet comfortable circular dining set
A long sectional inspired by old English garden furniture
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