Contributed by Manisha Kumar
Are you in the market for furniture? Even if you’re buying furniture for the first time, think of environmentally friendly furniture. Does it sound expensive? It doesn’t have to be.
For one thing, cheap particle board furniture may be tempting, but it doesn’t last. Before long, you’ll have to replace it.
That means spending more money. It also means discarding a piece of junk no one can use any more. In turn, it means adding more volume to our already overburdened landfills.
You also need to keep your health in mind when you choose furniture. A lot of furniture is made with volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They leach into the air over time. They’re one reason why our indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. VOCs have all kinds of bad health effects like respiratory irritation. You or someone in your family might be sensitive to these chemicals.
Here are five tips to help you choose environmentally friendly furniture:
1. Reusing furniture is part of the “waste-not” ethos
Going green and saving the earth from unnecessary waste reusing already created products. That means when you’re ready to part with furniture, donate it to a thrift shop instead of taking it to the curb. It also means that you can buy furniture from a thrift shop!
Thrift shops have their share of junk. Look for quality furniture made from wood that can become a family heirloom. For example furniture made from rosewood, mahogany, teak, or sheesham will last without decay for more than hundred years when properly maintained.
2. Invest in antique furniture
Furniture from antique shops costs more than furniture from thrift shops. But not any more than new furniture. A piece of antique furniture has obviously been well cared for and has reached the status of an heirloom. You can pass it down through your own family or sell it to an antique shop so someone else can use this environmentally friendly furniture.
3. Opt for recyclable furniture
Look for upcycled furniture. Or if you’re creative enough, make your own. For example you can find or make a bench from pallets or reclaimed wood.
It’s a way to get environmentally friendly furniture by saving “junk” from the landfill.
And if you become bored of it, you can always disassemble it and make something else.
4. Buy new furniture made from sustainable materials
Here are three sustainable materials to consider.
Before you buy new wooden furniture, ask if the was harvested sustainably and belongs to a control chain that is well-documented. The Forest Stewardship Council identifies sustainably managed wood. If you see the FSC logo on the wood you choose, you know it’s eco-friendly.
But you don’t need to use wood at all.
Bamboo looks like wood, but it’s a fast-growing grass. It’s a renewable resource because it takes a mere five years to re-grow and cut, as compared to the twenty years or more for hardwoods. Since it grows rapidly and is abundantly available, it is considered as a greener option than using trees.
Glass is a great choice for table tops and shelves when it comes to sustainable furniture. Not only is it strong, it is also very stable and can be easily recycled without losing its traits and form. Besides, it can also be cut again and reshaped for further reuse.
5. Choose eco-friendly finishes
More VOCs come from finishes than from wood. Especially if you avoid plywood and particle board.
- Upholstery: Choose organic fabrics to cover your furniture, such as organic cotton. It is known for its durability and is not chemically treated. Choose cushions with natural latex foam.
- Finishes: Choose furniture that has been stained, varnished, or painted with non-toxic materials. In other words, it does not contain formaldehyde or other VOCs.
When you buy environmentally friendly furniture, you invest in a green and healthy lifestyle. And it is durable, which means you can live with it for a long, long time.
Manisha Kumar is the editor and manager of thebasicwoodworking.com blog. When she is not writing she is playing golf or managing home.