How to know if your furniture is eco-friendly

Today we have a guest post written by sustainability writer Emily Folk. You can find more of her work on her blog Conservation Folks or you can connect with her on Twitter.

How to Know if Your Furniture Is Eco-Friendly

If you want to have an eco-friendly home, you have to put some thought into which products you bring into it. If you find the right furniture options, your couches, tables, chairs, beds and more can be eco-friendly and even entirely sustainable.

Here are six ways to tell how your furnishings measure up when it comes to eco-friendliness:

Buy Used

If you bought your furniture used, that’s a point for sustainability. Buying products made from reclaimed or recycled materials counts too. When you buy fixtures that have been used, you’re saving it from getting thrown in a landfill. You also prevent the emissions and the use of materials needed to make a new product.

Look For Local

Shipping is a major factor in how much of an effect an item has on the environment. The further a product needs to come, the more emissions the planes, trucks and other vehicles that transport it create.

When you buy locally made items that are produced with local materials, your purchase will be more environmentally friendly. Small businesses and the shops of local craftsmen, such as Amish furniture makers who only sell and ship their goods within the United States, are perfect places to buy local goods.

Choose Sustainable Materials

Numerous organizations evaluate furniture and determine how sustainable and eco-friendly it is. They provide official certifications to products that make the cut. Manufacturers display these certifications on their products or packaging, so that sustainable items are easy to identify.

Some materials are more sustainable than others. Bamboo, for example, grows quickly. Because it grows so fast, it’s often easier to maintain a healthy bamboo forest. How materials are sourced is important as well. If wood is harvested in a way that keeps forests healthy, it may be labeled sustainable.

Consider Chemicals

Almost every product releases substances into the air over its lifetime. If furniture is treated with or contains a toxic chemical, this substance may leak into the air in your home. This is part of the reason that indoor air quality is often so much worse than outdoor air quality.

You can tell if your purchase contains these chemicals by checking for certifications, looking in the product’s manual and asking the manufacturer.

Go for Long-Lasting Options

When you buy products that last a long time, the overall environmental impacts of your consumption will be lower. You’ll have to dispose of old things and buy new ones less often, so you’ll skip out on emissions and other environmental impacts associated with disposing of products and getting new ones.

Your furniture should last a long time if you want it to be eco-friendly. Checking for warrantees and guarantees can help you figure out how long your product will last. They should also be high quality and easy to repair if something breaks. These high-grade features may cost a bit more up front, but they will save you money in the long run.

Pick Recyclable Products

When it does come time to get rid a piece of furniture, you want to be able to recycle it. Look for products that are classified as recyclable. Even better, try donating it to thrift shops, giving it to a friend or selling it online or at a yard sale so that you can prevent the environmental impacts of disposal and buying new products even longer.

Furniture is a relatively large purchase and can have a rather large impact on the environment if you’re not careful. You can, however, find plenty of more eco-friendly options if you know where to look.

Emily Folk is a freelance conservation and sustainability writer and blogger. To check out her latest articles take a look at her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter!


Sustainable fashion guide

If you are looking to create a sustainable lifestyle with style, you will love my guide to sustainable fashion 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe. A 60 page guide and 21 page printable workbook packed with simple actionable advice and activities for living more sustainably without compromising on style.

If you want to confidently approach your wardrobe sustainably, untangle yourself from consumer culture, declutter mindfully and learn how to shop sustainably, how to assess a fashion label’s ethics and sustainability credentials, and much much more, 6 Steps to a Sustainable Wardrobe is the resource to help you do this.