Sustainability in furniture depends on many factors, including materials, the manufacturing process and the transportation used to get it to the consumer. In addition, it is essential to consider how useful the furniture is and whether it will be durable enough to last a long time.

Lately, furniture manufacturers have begun changing their materials and manufacturing processes to reflect a greater push toward green living.

Modern furniture made from recycled shipping pallets.

Modern furniture made from recycled shipping pallets.

Responsibility in transport is an essential part of producing a sustainable product due to the large amount of energy required to bring goods from one location to another. Sustainable furniture aims to be easily and efficiently transportable and should not take up excessive space or require great energy expenditure to move. Locally produced furniture using only locally-sourced materials are a very good way to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

Buying locally-made furniture instead of imported furniture is also a way of supporting local economies, including local craftspeople and small businesses.

Chairs made from discarded industrial barrels

Chairs, stools, tables, and lamps can be made from discarded industrial barrels.

Sustainable furniture should be made of recycled or re-purposed materials, and/or be recyclable itself. Furniture pieces can be made by re-using materials from old barns or wooden pallets, metal, old furniture, buildings, bridges and myriad other items. It also comes from other sources, such as discarded factory scraps or logs that are reclaimed from rivers.

Reclaimed furniture handcrafted from old pieces of wood.

Reclaimed furniture handcrafted from old pieces of wood.

Mostly anything that can be reused in any form is eco-friendly as recycling materials requires the consumption of fewer resources and saves materials from ending up in the landfill sites.

Another sustainable option is using renewable materials that are organic and can be easily re-grown or replaced. Bamboo is increasingly gaining popularity in the furniture industry and also as a flooring material because it is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world.

Eco-friendly bamboo bed

Eco-friendly bamboo bed

To achieve sustainability, furniture should be usable and durable. Furniture that increases efficiency by providing greater utility for the user, such as multifunctional furniture, is always preferable. Buying good quality, well made furniture is considered buying green furniture, as it will not have to be replaced for a long time.

vintage furniture

Buying vintage furniture could be the easiest way of buying green.

Finally, buying vintage furniture could be the easiest way of buying green. Even if the piece was not originally made from Forest Stewardship Council certified wood, or comes without a green certification, it has certainly been around long enough to finish off-gassing. Also, by avoiding the manufacturing process and transport, and saving it from a potential fate in a landfill, it is a way to help protect the natural environment.

  • Great article and good to see a journalist reflect on the transportation associated with green products. It's not very environmentally responsible if a recycled table is being flown over from the U.S or China. Longevity is also a key point when purchasing – thanks for bringing up.