Ideally we would all live in perfectly sustainable green homes, but it’s not something that happens overnight. One of the easiest but most impactful changes you can make right now is looking at your furniture and home goods shopping choices. Let’s consider eco-friendly furniture. Be sure to check out our other posts on Eco-Friendly home design via the links below.
So what makes furniture sustainable? 5 main things:
Materials – the most important criteria: look for sustainably harvested wood and the FSC certification—the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is a non-profit organization that sets certain high standards to make sure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner; also look for any recycled, reclaimed, and reused materials, and rapidly renewable materials
It’s non-toxic – adhesives and finishes that consider the health of workers, consumers, and the planet
Quality – furniture that stands the test of time; this limits the need to buy new items frequently—kind of like fast fashion: it’s better to invest in one great piece that will last forever, than to replace a flimsier piece multiple times
Manufacturing practices – operations that use clean energy and minimize energy and waste
Recyclability – components that are easily dismantled and recycled at the end of a product’s useful life
We’ll break down a few of the above in the context of actual brands. Plus other key things to look out for when purchasing sustainable furniture, and some eco-friendly shopping habits to consider.
RECYCLED OR UPCYCLED FURNITURE
SECOND-HAND SHOPPING is always more sustainable than buying new, and that’s why Chairish is one of our favorite eco-conscious furniture brands. Their whole mission is repurposing old pieces and making them new again, plus Chairish’s incredible collection of vintage finds will give you a totally unique design vibe.
While Etsy is best known for handmade and original pieces, the company also works with sellers who reclaim and upcycle furniture—from wooden wall art to pallet coffee tables.
Finally, sites like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace can connect you directly to people selling their furniture and decor—you can find everything from vintage pieces to lightly used big brand pieces, saving them from being forgotten in storage or thrown away.
PURCHASING NEW. Shop your favorite big brands, but seek out their eco-friendly lines, and pieces that use eco-friendly materials:
A lot of big name furniture sellers, like Crate & Barrel and West Elm, have FSC-certified, reclaimed, and sustainably-made lines and pieces within their larger collections. At West Elm, some of the most popular sofas, dressers, and more are FSC-certified, like this bedroom setup you see here on the right. Plus 100% of their all-cotton bedding and towels are certified organic, and they’ve pledged to have 50% of their wood sustainably sourced by the end of this year.
IKEA has also been working hard to make their business model and production methods much more sustainable—from using energy-efficient LED lighting across the entire company, to sustainably sourcing all of their cotton. They are also working towards 100% renewable energy, producing as much as they consume in their operations. Plus IKEA sells many energy-efficient and water-saving products, from shower heads to light fixtures.
BRANDS WITH FAIR-WAGE INITIATIVES/GIVE BACK PROGRAMS
The Citizenry is a lifestyle and home brand that empowers artisans around the world by focusing on the individuals behind each of their products. They have everything from furniture to bath products, and they are all produced in small batches that focus on quality over quantity. Their business model is simple: artisan partners (from Morocco, Mexico, Peru, and more) collaborate with The Citizenry, and the locally-made products are then sold exclusively online. This totally cuts out the middleman, guaranteeing fair wages for the artisans. Plus, 10% of proceeds go back to the artisan communities, allowing the sustainable model to grow and thrive.
In addition to giving back to the makers and artisans, look for other “give back” programs and initiatives:
With every purchase you make at Joybird, the company will plant more trees than were used in the manufacturing of that item, ensuring that resources are constantly being replenished and conserved.
We mentioned Chairish above, and not only are they a great source for second-hand pieces, but they also give back. Each year, the company offers a scholarship designed to support students interested in design-related fields.
ALTERNATIVE MATTRESS OPTIONS
Saatva is a mattress company that uses recycled tempered steel, eco-friendly foams, and organic cotton coverings to make their memory foam mattresses. Avocado is another eco-friendly mattress brand. They use 100% natural latex for their mattresses, which is both recyclable and biodegradable. Plus they offer a vegan version of their popular mattress which substitutes cotton for wool. With all of these green innovations, it’s definitely worth doing a little research the next time you are shopping for a mattress!
MADE IN USA
High Point, North Carolina is the hub for USA-crafted furniture, drawing thousands of designers and visitors biannually for its High Point Furniture Market. We at Haven have proudly sourced new furniture pieces from the market for years.
Not only does this help local craftspeople, artisans, and economies, but sourcing right from a few states away streamlines shipping and cuts way down on the shipping waste that an international journey creates.
Burrow is just one great example of a popular online shop that manufactures its sofas in the USA, and ships them in 100 percent recycled cardboard boxes. Look for other furniture brands with transparent manufacturing and shipping practices, and support your local craftspeople!
As demand for ethical and sustainable products grows, so do the options for including them in your home. Have fun searching some of the beautiful and impactful items for your space to take care of the Earth and the people in it.
PS – Haven did an entire session on Eco-Friendly design during a Tuesdays at Two – you can watch the entire episode here!