As we sit on our comfortable couches, sipping our coffee and flipping through the pages of a magazine, we seldom think about the impact our furniture may have on the environment and the wildlife species that inhabit it. And without that mindfulness in place, we are confronted with a much bigger dilemma when we actually need to buy ourselves new furniture, aren’t we? Thankfully, as we all become more aware of our actions impact on the environment, many of us are looking for ways to live more sustainably. And one crucial area where we can make a difference is in the furniture we choose to buy. Sustainable furniture companies are becoming more popular (again, thankfully!), but how can we know if they are doing their best to be as sustainable as possible? It’s essential to consider the sustainability of furniture companies and their impact on the environment and wildlife habitats. So, in this post, we will explore ways to evaluate sustainable furniture companies so you can determine if they are genuinely committed to sustainability when you’re shopping.
Defining Sustainable Furniture
First, let’s define what we mean by sustainable furniture. Sustainable furniture is furniture that is made from materials that are renewable, recycled, or reclaimed. It is also furniture that is made using processes that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Sustainable furniture companies prioritize sustainability in their business practices, from sourcing materials to manufacturing and shipping products.
What to Look for in Sustainable Furniture Companies
One way to evaluate sustainable furniture companies is to look at their certifications. There are several certifications that sustainable furniture companies can obtain, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which ensures that the wood used in the furniture comes from responsibly managed forests. Another certification is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which ensures that the textiles used in the furniture are made from organic fibers and are processed using environmentally friendly methods. By looking for these certifications, we can be sure that the furniture we are buying is truly sustainable.
It is also essential to check where the sourcing and production of the furniture happens. Sustainable furniture companies should prioritize local sourcing and production whenever possible. This reduces the carbon footprint of transportation and supports local economies.
Another way to evaluate sustainable furniture companies is to examine their manufacturing processes. Sustainable furniture companies should prioritize using environmentally friendly manufacturing processes, such as using renewable energy sources and minimizing waste. They should also prioritize using non-toxic materials and avoiding harmful chemicals. By doing so, they can ensure that their furniture is sustainable and safe for consumers to use.
In addition to looking at certifications and manufacturing processes, we can evaluate sustainable furniture companies by looking at their transparency. Sustainable furniture companies should be transparent about their business practices, from sourcing materials to manufacturing and shipping products. They should also be transparent about their environmental and social impact. By being transparent, they can build trust with consumers and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability.
Local Adaptive Reuse
In addition to evaluating sustainable furniture companies, we can also take steps to ensure that the furniture we buy is sustainable. One way to do this is to purchase furniture made from recycled or reclaimed materials. The best sustainable furniture choices are created from recycled items like salvaged wood, recycled textiles, and reused materials like wood. These materials are not only eco-friendly, but they also reduce waste and conserve resources. However, it is essential to note that not all recycled materials are created equal. Some materials may have been recycled multiple times, leading to decreased quality and durability. Stay mindful of this potential caveat. All in all, though, we can reduce the demand for new materials and minimize waste by choosing adaptive reuse alternatives. And yet another way to ensure that the furniture we buy is sustainable is to buy furniture that is made locally. By doing so, we can reduce the environmental impact of shipping and support local businesses.
Longevity and Biodegradability
As a decent segue, a vital factor to highlight is the longevity and biodegradability of the furniture, reclaimed or otherwise. Sustainable furniture should be designed to last a long time, reducing the need for replacement and waste. Additionally, the furniture should be biodegradable, meaning it can break down naturally without harming the environment.
What to Avoid when Searching for Sustainable Furniture Companies
One of the biggest red flags to look out for is vague terminology. Terms like “eco-friendly” or “green” can be misleading and do not necessarily mean the furniture is sustainable. Look for specific details about the materials used and the production process.
Lack of Transparency
Another red flag is a lack of transparency. Sustainable furniture companies should be open about their sourcing and production processes. If a company is unwilling to share this information, it may be a sign that they are not as sustainable as they claim to be.
Greenwashing is a dangerous marketing tactic companies use to make their products appear more sustainable than they actually are. Look out for claims like “100% natural” or “chemical-free.” Their ‘green’ claims are often misleading and do not necessarily mean the product is sustainable.
Red Flags of Greenwashing
Let’s go over the red flags, so you know if you spot greenwashing when you’re looking for sustainable furniture.
When shopping for sustainable furniture, it’s important to be aware of red flags that may indicate that a company is not as sustainable as they claim to be. One red flag to look out for is vague or misleading language. Terms like “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “sustainable” can be used without any real meaning behind them. Look out for claims like “100% natural” or “chemical-free” as well. Companies may also use nature-evoking images and colors in branding and packaging to create the impression of sustainability without actually being sustainable.
To avoid falling victim to greenwashed packaging like this, it’s essential to always look for third-party certifications and verifications when vetting a company or product. Do not rely on marketing tactics. Proper certifications can prove that a company is genuinely committed to sustainability and can help consumers make more informed choices. It’s also essential to research and look for specific information about a company’s sustainability practices rather than relying on vague or misleading language.
Another red flag to look out for is imported wood. While a piece of furniture may be made from ethically sourced wood, it may have a large carbon footprint if it has traveled a long distance to reach its destination. It’s important to consider the environmental impact of shipping when evaluating the sustainability of a piece of furniture.
Additionally, it’s essential to consider the materials used in the furniture. Some materials may not be recyclable or may not have recycling facilities nearby. Choosing furniture made from sustainable materials and produced using ethical labor practices can help combat pollution and ensure that the furniture is genuinely sustainable.
Sustainable Furniture Companies Doing it Right
Many sustainable furniture companies are doing it right.
One example is Medley, which uses sustainably sourced materials and non-toxic finishes. Another example is Allform (check the other great links in their footer too), which uses recycled materials and has a closed-loop production process. These companies are transparent about their operations and prioritize sustainability in all aspects of their business.
One last company which prioritizes transparency is worth mentioning, too, and that’s Joybird. This furniture company uses environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing processes. They are transparent about their sourcing and manufacturing practices and provide detailed information about the environmental impact of their products. They also prioritize social responsibility by partnering with organizations that support environmental and social causes. By prioritizing transparency, Joybird demonstrates their commitment to sustainability and building trust with consumers. (And dare I say, with hummingbirds too? ;))
Make Yourself Proud
As we reach the end of our investigation, one thing is clear: sustainable furniture is no longer a niche trend but a growing movement fueled by consumers’ eco-consciousness. By scrutinizing a company’s certifications, manufacturing methods, and transparency, we can distinguish the true sustainably sourced furniture from the merely “greenwashed” alternatives. But the responsibility doesn’t just rest with the producers; as consumers, we can make a difference by opting for furniture made from upcycled or repurposed materials and choosing local artisans to support a circular economy. By integrating sustainability into our furniture purchasing habits, we can help pave the way for a greener, more ethical future for generations. So let’s take a stand and furnish our homes with style and purpose.