4 things to consider when shopping for sustainable furniture
Deforestation is one of the big problems being tackled by environmentalists the world over, but for large-scale positive change to happen, consumers need to change their habits. By 2030, the earth faces having only 10% of its rainforests left if we continue at the current rate, according to green statistics site The World Counts. This problem threatens to make thousands of plant and animal species extinct, as well as having wide-ranging impacts on the planet’s delicate environment.
Logging is one of the main reasons for deforestation, and the furniture industry is one of the driving forces behind the demand for new wood. Unfortunately, there are many UK retailers who provide no information to consumers about where their wood is sourced from. One of the best ways to tackle this problem is to try and raise awareness about the effects of unsustainable logging, and to get people questioning just where the wood used in their home furnishings comes from.
The next time that you go furniture shopping, be sure to keep the following four considerations in mind and we can begin to make changes on a personal level that can affect the situation on a global scale.
Look backwards instead of forwards
Furniture that you buy for your home doesn’t always have to be brand new. The UK sends approximately 672,000 tonnes of furniture each year to landfill, half of which could be re-used, according to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce.
There are plenty of pieces made years back that are built to last and will add a healthy dose of character to your home. You can do your bit by saving some furniture from going the journey and recycling or upcycling it. Visit flea markets, second hand stores, and car boot sales, as well as keeping an eye on websites like eBay, Gumtree, and Craigslist for some bargains.
Change your shopping habits
You can lessen your dependence on buying new furniture by adopting a new minimalist mentality. Not only will your home look less cluttered, but you will be lowering your carbon footprint for the greater good. When you do need to buy new furnishings, look for pieces that are multipurpose, saving you from buying two or three separate items. Take a look at these ideas from Houzz for some inspiration
You can supplement this new attitude by investing in furniture that is made to last and won’t simply break after a few years’ use. This will probably cost more up front, but will won’t have you running back to the store for another one.
Always look for furniture made with sustainable wood
We’ve already mentioned that many retailers don’t provide enough information about where they source their timber, and you can make them sit up and take notice through your buying choices. Instead of snapping up the cheapest furniture on the market, take the time to find products that you really like and are clearly marked as sustainable. Look for sets, like this Cambridge Bistro garden table and chairs from Wyevale Garden Centres, that are clearly marked with the Forest Stewardship Councils’ (FSC) ‘tick-tree’ logo, which indicates you can buy with confidence, with timber coming from a sustainable source.
Avoid furniture made with harmful chemicals
Off-gassing takes place when something continues to output gases into the atmosphere for a lengthy period of time. This process is not always harmful, however, many materials used to make furniture are produced with chemicals that will continue to pollute the air, even when they are sitting in your home. Some of the biggest offenders are items that contain chemicals like formaldehyde or have been treated with flame-retardants, which will continue to emit toxic gases.
There are two main ways that you can avoid furniture that has been made with harmful chemicals. You can look specifically for items that are marked as ‘non-toxic’, as well as only buy furniture that is made with organic materials, such as 100% cotton, wicker, or natural linen.
Keep these tips in mind when you next go furniture shopping and you can become one of the many people who are addressing their old consumer habits with a new environmentally-conscious outlook. If you can spread the word and get others to adopt the same attitude, hopefully the furniture industry will begin to take note and change its ways.