The word sustainable has permeated nearly every industry: energy, automotive, real estate, and healthcare, just to name a few. It makes sense, then, that sustainable furniture would follow suit. If you’re interested in living an eco-friendly life, you might want to consider sustainability when you choose your next furniture piece.
What Is Sustainable Furniture?
Put simply, sustainable furniture also referred to as "eco-friendly" or "green" furniture are furnishings made from used or renewable resources. In other words, it doesn’t harm the environment as much as furniture made from nonrenewable resources or brand-new materials. Recycled plastic, for instance, has already been used for another product, while bamboo grows so quickly and spreads so widely that it’s easily replaced.
Sustainable furniture design can take many forms, from DIY solutions that crafty consumers cook up in their garages to lines of professionally designed pieces that come from sustainable sources. However, sustainability goes beyond the product itself. True eco-friendly furniture is sourced, designed, manufactured, transported, and delivered with the smallest possible carbon footprint.
What Materials Do Green Furniture Designers Use?
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As mentioned above, plastic and bamboo serve as reliable go-to materials for sustainable furniture design. However, many other substances prove useful:
Additionally, any piece of furniture made from recycled materials can bear the sustainable label. Used metal, textiles, and timber, for instance, can all help the environment. In fact, if you pick up a vintage chair at a flea market, you’re technically buying a sustainable product because it might otherwise wind up in a landfill.
Where Do Sustainable Materials Comes From?
Part of the sustainable movement involves reducing carbon emissions. Big boats, trucks, and planes emit copious fumes as they crisscross the country and the world. Therefore, true sustainable material comes from local sources. That way, the furniture produces fewer emissions as it travels from factory to home.
Additionally, they come from manufacturers or builders who don’t use flame retardants and other chemicals in furniture production. While a flame-retardant couch might seem like a sound purchase, these chemicals cause more harm than good. They release chemicals that reduce indoor air quality and put human and animal health at risk.
You’ll also want to consider furniture made with few or no volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. All furniture gives off gasses, or releases substances into the air, but you want furniture that gives off gasses the healthiest compounds possible. VOCs come from synthetic materials and can cause respiratory issues and other health problems.How Do
Sustainable Furniture Pieces Function?
The sustainable furniture design movement focuses on lightness, flexibility, and purpose. The most eco-friendly furniture is small and lightweight so that it doesn’t cost much to move. It also serves multiple purposes in the home.
Minimalism, tiny houses, and other lifestyle trends have encouraged consumers to live with fewer things and in smaller spaces. A dining table that can transform into a bench or office desk, for instance, proves more valuable because it’s a multipurpose item.
Transforming furniture isn’t the only option, however. Some sustainable designs can fold down into a compact, lightweight square or rectangle. When you don’t need it, you simply store it in a closet or underneath another piece of furniture. If you move to a new house, packing becomes easier and you don’t need a huge truck for transportation. You can also get a smaller storage unit if you need to store your belongings temporarily.
Can You Build Your Own Green Furniture?
You don’t have to whip out your wallet to take part in the sustainable furniture movement. If you’re handy with tools — and even if you’re not — you can make your own furniture. You won’t have to deal with transportation costs or emissions, and you’ll enjoy knowing that a functional piece of furniture came from your own hands.
Creative consumers and designers have used many off beat materials to create green furniture, from drinking straws to rolled-up magazines. Some might not seem entirely practical, but they’ll inspire your imagination and fuel your creativity.
If you’re not ready to start from scratch, try repurposing a piece of furniture you own or bought. Repaint an old dresser, reupholster a tired chair, or strip a dining chair and retain it. Something that looks old, broken, or otherwise in disrepair can easily look new again — and become a serviceable piece of sustainable furniture.
How Eco-friendly Furniture Benefits You and The World?
Eco-friendly furniture offers many benefits. It’s great for your health because of the low chemical and toxin content. It also reduces the growth of landfills, which improves indoor and outdoor air quality. Additionally, this type of furniture helps keep the planet green and reduces the consumption of nonrenewable resources. Plus, you’ll often save money on green furniture over the alternatives.
If you enjoy reducing your carbon footprint, consider sustainable choices throughout your house. You’ll feel better while you’re at home, and your bank account will thank you.