Nowadays buying furniture is tantamount to buying disposables. Nobody wants to keep it forever. Everyone wants to introduce new trends and changes now and then, thus diminishing the subtlety and exquisiteness of the bought furniture. This use-and-throw habit is harming nature and exploiting its resources beyond carrying capacity. So, now more than ever, environment friendly alternatives are must.
Eco-friendly furniture is furniture with the least negative impact on the environment. It constitutes furniture built from recycled wood, reused from family heirlooms, materials utilized from thrift stores and garage sales to build unique home decor, as well as furniture with the least carbon emissions during transport. Eco-friendly furniture does not mean using dilapidated furnishing or not catering to your taste just to protect the environment. It means using raw materials in such a way that minimal impact is borne by the natural resources, hence making sure these reserves would suffice the next generations comfortably. Wicker furniture, sofas made from bamboo, recycled metals, old wooden decorative pieces, etc. are included in eco-friendly furniture. Recycling is one of the best ways to ensure you are following the natural way of life.
Furniture is said to be ethical when it follows proper supply chain and work modules. It means that during the course of manufacture, from assembling raw materials to the final finish, work standards follow a definitive moral sense. Daily wages, working conditions, age specifications, labour-superior relationships, everything that is included during construction should follow certain rules. Buying ethical and eco-friendly furniture helps solve many humanitarian and ecological problems. Keeping in mind all standards and certifications while buying furniture will go a long way in helping people live more sustainably.
Certifications Everyone Needs to Know
FEMB: It is a pan-European certification scheme. It is designed to deliver a transparent means of assessing and communicating ecological as well as social impacts of furniture products in the built environment. Points earned under each of the four categories, i.e. materials, energy and atmosphere, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility, determine level of certification, levels 1 through 3, with 3 being the highest level of performance recognized.
BIFMA’s LEVEL: This certification is proof manufacturers have demonstrated that their products, company policies, and manufacturing facilities have met stringent third-party sustainability requirements. Based on points acquired, companies can earn one of three levels of certification. These include silver, gold and platinum in the categories: environmental impacts, health and wellness impacts, and social impacts. It is a multi-attribute standard developed to deliver open means of evaluating impacts on social and environmental aspects. Available in India.
LEED: Famously known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, it is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. This symbol is globally recognized as a sign of sustainability achievement and leadership. Available in India.
GREENGUARD: This certification is a part of UL Environment (Underwriters Laboratories’ business unit). This helps manufacturers produce, at the same time helping buyers identify, indoor products as well as materials with low chemical emissions. This helps improve the quality of indoor air where products are used. A subset, the GREENGUARD GOLD, includes products that emit even lower levels of chemicals, especially formaldehyde. This is to make sure that indoor air quality, which affects kids the most, is maintained within proper limits. Available in India.
MAS Certified Green: MAS is an emissions testing lab that specializes in helping manufacturers enter the green market by making sure their products are emitting low VOCs. This certification works towards minimizing health concerns from emissions inside schools, residential complexes, and office buildings. Vigorous testing and investigation is a requirement MAS cannot do without. It makes sure the furnishings have been designed to produce lower VOCs.
Cradle to Cradle: Through this certification, it is made sure that products are assessed for social and environmental performance across five major sustainability categories. These are: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. The levels assigned as per achievement are basic, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
FSC Chain-of-Custody: This certification traces the pathway of products from forests through supply chain, at the same time verifying that FSC-certified material is kept separate from non-certified material throughout the chain. It ensures that products customers buy are from responsibly managed sources, starting from harvesters to retailers. Available in India.
Green Seal: This certification uses a life-cycle-based approach and includes 27 standards to make sure the products and services by a manufacturer settle well in the green marketplace. It takes into consideration performance, health, and sustainability criteria.
Global Eco-friendly Furniture Brands
1. West Elm: FSC certified brand with beautiful, modern style. Available both online and offline.
2. Avocado: Handmade in California, it uses reclaimed wood without retardants or chemicals. It sells online.
3. Burrow: Shipped in 100% recycled cardboard boxes, their furniture can be easily assembled and re-arranged. Eco-friendly and comfy designs are sure to take your breath away. It has showrooms in the US but sells online only.
4. The Citizenry: Offering expertise of artisans all over the western world, the pieces are created from start to finish in a fair trade environment. It invests 10% of its proceeds back into artisan communities through grants. It sells online.
5. Joybird: Selling impressive mid-century pieces, the furniture is custom-made in Mexico with craftspeople receiving medical benefits, safe environment and competitive wages. For each item this brand sells, Joybird makes sure to plant more trees than were used in manufacturing to preserve rainforests. It sells online.
Apart from these, one can find a plethora of eco-friendly furniture brands selling products online.
Indian Eco-friendly Furniture Brands
Talking about India, some of the famous online furniture brands that sell sustainable products are:
1. BARO: Well-known for producing upcycled, bespoke, and whimsical furniture recycling newspaper, reclaimed wood and other materials for home decor. It sells natural polished finished products that are bound to increase the beauty of your indoors.
2. Differniture: This brand functions on zero waste or minimal waste design with reclaimed wood, salvaged materials and natural, non-toxic oils and waxes used to manufacture a vast variety of products.
3.Ubyld: All the furniture is manufactured with upcycled pine wood and has a rustic vibe to it. Hand-picked by vendors, the pieces don’t require complicated assembly and can be built without drilling.
4. Sadaya Guild: This is a Mumbai-based furniture brand that collects wood from structures like old homes and shops, repurposing them to craft exquisite pieces of furnishings. They believe wood reincarnates into more durable and stable material.
5. Sylvn Studio: Having worked with Etsy, Raymond, The Bombay Store and more, this brand boasts of products made from corrugated cardboard, recycled materials, and burlap. Both sustainable and durable, the merchandise of this brand is full of artistic collections.
It is always better to introduce the concept of minimalistic living in our daily life. Therefore, investing in brands that sell eco-friendly and ethical furniture, for the benefit of this planet and generations to come, should be our motto.
Ms. Adeela Hameed, M.Sc. Environmental Science.