Sustainable furniture is gaining its rightful place in the spotlight. Top designers are crafting their inspiration into mindful, artistic pieces of furniture that offer beauty, function and intention. Ideally, sustainable furniture is sourced, manufactured, packaged and shipped with environmental, social and ethical awareness. This results in reduced negative outputs like eco-damage, pollution, and superfluous landfill waste associated with traditional furniture.
The furniture and home furnishings industry generate over $115 billion worth of sales yearly. As of the latest data reported in 2017, 12.2 million tons of furniture waste was generated in the U.S. that year. An additional 35.4 million tons of plastic waste coming from durable goods and containers and packaging categories was also reported that year. Imagine the power of impact if sustainable standards were adopted industry-wide. The best companies are about the triple bottom line - people, planet and profit.
Steps towards sustainability in the home goods industry have recently begun trending mainstream. Sustainable furniture is itself a broad definition and can be as simple as being made out of a fast-growing regenerative plant such as bamboo or it can meet rigorous standards earning internationally-recognized certifications such GREENGUARD, Cradle to Cradle, the Oeko-Tex 100 label and FSC. Popular home furnishing stores like Restoration Hardware, West Elm, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma Home offer plenty of eco-friendly and locally-made furniture and décor options. Smaller online retailers such as Saavy Rest, Made Trade, Simbly and Medley also offer sustainable furniture and home décor.
What Makes Furniture Sustainable?
- Sustainable Sourcing – the incorporation and inclusion of social, ethical and environmental factors into the supplier selection process.
- Sustainable Materials can be derived from plants and trees that are rapidly regenerative, reclaimed, recycled and/or repurposed. Sustainable furnishings are typically made from materials, paint finishes and hardware that are low toxic or toxic-free.
- Packing and Shipping – Smart, sustainable packaging includes recycled corrugated cardboard and reusable, biodegradable material as opposed to traditional plastic and Styrofoam.
Need more convincing that sustainability can be stylish? Check out our favorite décor & furniture finds from responsible manufacturers. Note – this article is not an ad, none of these are sponsored brands or products.
1) Ro Sham Beaux, Malibu Chandelier
Ro Sham Beaux describes their style as “fusion of Charleston, SC meets Venice Beach, CA, the east-meets-west style.” Ro Sham Beaux “merges high design with natural elements from around the world. Hemp wrapped fixtures accented with antique brass or polished nickel. Hand strung beads, selected from a curated collection of minerals such as lustrous crystals, textured quartz, and recycled glass.”
I can’t stop gawking at this gorgeous chandelier which is subtle enough for casual daytime dining yet easily transforms into formal dining with its illuminated sophistication. It completely elevated our dining room and pairs perfectly with..
2) Ethnicraft – Circle Table
Streamlined elegance is at the heart of Ethnicraft furniture. According to the site “the ultimate noble and renewable material, all of our wood is sourced from responsibly and carefully managed forests.” Their Teak collection “also includes products certified as 100% FSC and we carry the FSC CoC certificate that verifies the path of products through the whole supply chain.”
Extra bonus is any leftover wood from planks is recycled and even sawdust is saved and used to fuel ovens for production.
The Oak Circle table is truly a beautifully crafted piece of furniture. The functional, long-lasting design lends itself to ample family time meals and memories to be made. Added bonus - their customer service is top-notch and any inquiries get responded to very promptly.
3) RH Baby & Child – Tatum Wide Dresser, GREENGUARD Gold Certified
Restoration Hardware has a vast collection of furnishings certified GREENGUARD and GREENGUARD gold. The company makes it easy to identify which products have been tested and verified to meet stringent chemical emissions standards. As stated on their site “the result is reduced chemical exposure for you and your family, and improved indoor air quality in your home. The GREENGUARD Gold Certification mark indicates that products have been independently and scientifically screened for over 10,000 chemicals and more than 360 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde and phthalates, that pollute indoor air and contribute to health problems, including asthma and allergies.”
When my sons were newborns, I knew I wanted their nursery to have all GREENGUARD certified furniture. Both of the dressers we purchased were from RH and both were GREENGUARD Gold certified. They’re beautiful, quality-made dressers that have withstood the test of time.
4) Romina Furniture – Imperio Crib
Romina is one of my favorite furniture brands for babies and children. Romina is a GREENGUARD gold certified business and they use 100% Organic Finishes & Glue. According to the site, they “abide by the European Treaty for Forest Re-Harvesting. For every beech tree we cut down, we replace it with five saplings to safeguard our oxygen supply and provide future furniture builders with access to this high-quality material.” Furthermore, they “minimize waste by informing our suppliers of our measurements, allowing them to maximize each piece of wood for our purposes. Any waste that is produced is converted into packaging or used to warm our facilities during the cold Eastern European winters.” They also offer a 3-year warranty on their cribs.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I thoroughly researched all the crib manufacturers and was so impressed with Romina’s standards and values. Our son’s Violini crib withstood the test of time and easily converted to the toddler rail. When I was pregnant with my second child, my oldest was still using his crib so we bought a second Romina Imperio crib and love it just as much.
5) Furniture Pipeline – Eugene Modern Industrial Bookcase
Furniture Pipeline uses recycled and eco-friendly materials to create bold, creative furniture designs. Furniture Pipeline joined the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) to help ensure their packaging was sustainable as well find new ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
According to the website, “each piece of furniture is crafted from light weight, durable aircraft-grade aluminum, and high quality solid hardwood Paulownia, sourced from sustainable wood farms.” For each purchase made, Furniture Pipeline partnered with Eden Projects guaranteeing 7 trees will be planted as part of their “planted7” campaign.
My husband works remotely and his home office was in dire need of re-organization. I wanted to find a functional, sustainable bookcase that would fit his daily work needs. This bookcase from Furniture Pipeline is not only a visually strong aesthetic with its industrial style but also extremely functional. The smart packaging lets the consumer know that their purchase supports the planted7 campaign, a win-win!
Finding beautiful, sustainable home furnishings is easier today than ever before. We are currently in the process of finalizing our curated sustainable furniture collection and are excited to keep you posted about our upcoming launch.