9 Types of Sustainable Furniture and Why You Should Care

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Looking to furnish your home with sustainable furniture? Learn all about different types of it and why you should consider it. Read on!

Whether you’re just following the sustainable and eco-friendly trend, or you want to create an efficient and green home from start to finish, you will want to pay attention to the sustainable furniture. The goal of this article is to explain why and gives you the options you need.

So what are the benefits of this type of furniture anyway?

  • It’s made from eco-friendly materials.
  • Furniture tends to be of higher quality.
  • You show you care about your environment.
  • Manufacturers avoid harmful materials and processes from choosing materials to delivery of the product.
  • Sustainable means it’s durable and recyclable.

Without further ado, let’s explore all the types of sustainable furniture. We’ll leave it up to you to make the choice (there’s no way to go wrong), as well as give you some recommendations about where to find the furniture you like.

Table of Contents

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What is Sustainable Furniture?

bamboo furniture

There are certain characteristics that are common to sustainable furniture pieces.

Typically, the materials used can be re-purposed or recycled. Previously-made pieces that are used to make new furniture can be referred to as sustainable. In addition, they have to be created from materials that can be easily renewed. For example, bamboo grows rapidly and can be very quickly replaced; therefore, it is considered a renewable resource.

Additionally, furniture is considered sustainable when environmentally-safe materials are used to create them. The manufactures also use low VOC finishes that do not emit dangerous chemicals to contribute to the safety of the furniture in everyday use.

The use of sustainable materials is just a part of making sustainable furniture. It is also vital to use responsible manufacturing practices as they have an immense impact on the environment. As such, these practices must be safe for the environment. This indicates that manufacturers must be mindful of checking carbon emissions and ensuring the environment is not polluted. They should also practice fair trade and preserve sensitive environments.

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Upcycled Furniture

upcycled

Upcycling is a technique that involves using discarded or old materials to create something reusable. The distinction between recycling and upcycling is simple. Recycling involves using consumer materials like glass, metal, paper, and plastic and breaking them down to make new consumer products that are typical of lower quality.

However, when an item is upcycled, the process does not involve breaking down any materials; the materials are simply refashioned. Furthermore, the quality produced from upcycled items has the same or even improved quality when compared with the original. This process is environmentally beneficial as it removes or saves materials from the landfills. It also encourages innovative thought processes and requires fewer resources than recycling.

You can find a lot of upcycled furniture options on Etsy.

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Eco-Friendly Furniture

eco-friendly

Eco-friendly furniture pieces are created in a way that benefits the environment. This is an indication that if the wood is used, it is sourced from suppliers who use sustainable means to grow and harvest their wood. Additionally, any substances used do not cause pollution or harm the planet. Furthermore, resources used are kept at a minimum and this includes keeping delivery mileage low.

The term ‘eco-friendly furniture’ can also be used to describe pieces that have been produced from recycled material. Pieces made from recycled materials are the ultimate environmentally-friendly combination of recreating something exciting and new from unused and discarded items. This keeps garbage out of the landfills and lowers the need for certain resources used to create furniture from scratch. Wood cladding, railway sleepers, and floorboards are ideal materials that can be recycled to make eco-friendly furniture.

Elle Decor has a great roundup of top places to get eco-friendly furniture.

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Non-Toxic Furniture

non-toxic

Features of non-toxic furniture include natural cushion filling like cotton, natural latex, wool and down. The process of creating these pieces does not involve the use of formaldehyde or chemical treatments on the fabric. This includes not using any water-resistant and stain-resistant coatings.

Some brands of non-toxic furniture also use solid woods, not pressed wood filled with formaldehyde. They also use eco-leather, which is basically an eco-friendly material that many environmentally-conscious individuals prefer because it can be easily wiped down to remove dirt. This type of leather eliminates the use of toxic dyes and treatments. Typically, the process includes the use of low or no VOC glues, varnishes, and stains.

Where to get non-toxic furniture? Most eco-friendly places will be compliant. The biggest one to meet the standard is IKEA.

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Reclaimed Furniture

reclaimed

Reclaimed furniture is made from wood that has been salvaged and reused in another form. Typically, the wood is salvaged from old barns, factories, and warehouses which were in a state of disrepair and ended up being demolished. The roof trusses, beams, floorboards, and joists are typically reclaimed and re-purposed into furniture pieces.

Etsy is also a great place for reclaimed furniture.

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Organic Furniture

organic

Organic furniture pieces are those made from raw materials that have been grown without harmful chemicals like pesticides. Typically, organically-grown products are more sustainable than non-organic pieces because they require fewer resources to produce them.

To create these pieces, locally-harvested or recycled materials are usually used. The assembly process uses minimal and non-toxic dyes and glues, which are normally purchased from a local retailer or store. This assures minimum impact on the environment from activities such as:

  • The transportation of raw materials
  • Not having to ship the finished product to far distances
  • Not using dangerous toxins from glues and dyes that can contaminate groundwater or the soil
  • Not using excess resources to produce, grow and assemble raw materials

A lot of furniture brands feature organic product lines. Some notable brands are VivaTerra, Joybird, Inmod, Environment Furniture, Burrow.

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Fair Trade Furniture

fair trade

Fair trade is the kind of trade between companies in the developed world and producers in the developing world where the latter gets a fair reward. When buying their products you can be sure you are helping someone on the other end of the world to develop their business.

Makers of fair trade furniture use sustainable wood, bamboo, and other environmentally-safe materials to make stylish and functional furniture.

West Elm carries lines of fair trade products. As well as there are specialized brands such as Myakka.

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Green Furniture

green

Green furniture is a term used to describe products that are locally manufactured, use raw materials from a sustainable forest, have low or no toxic material levels and are adequately durable. These pieces should be easy to repair, disassemble and recycle.

Eco-friendly furniture pieces are specifically designed to lower the environmental impact of your home and as such, sustainable pieces are constructed to be durable and change the perception that furniture pieces are disposable.

Having durable, high-quality furniture that can last a lifetime indicates fewer energy resources and raw materials being used to create new furniture. Additionally, it means reduced pollution from the creation, transportation, and dumping of furniture that is mass-produced.

Buying green furniture is a method used to live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. This is because these pieces can create a healthy home for members of the family and help to lessen the carbon footprint that is left on the planet.

Most eco-friendly brands will offer green furniture.

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Natural Furniture

natural

Designers and manufacturers of natural furniture pieces use innovative methods and green materials to bridge the gap between sustainability and functionality. They use a range of handmade natural textured materials to create beautiful pieces of furniture that are kind to the environment.

Crate and Barrel is one of the top brands for natural furniture.

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Ethical Furniture

ethical

The process of providing ethical furniture includes examining every phase of the supply chain, beginning with the materials. However, the process is not as straightforward as just avoiding certain fabrics, textiles, and woods. It is also important for designers and manufacturers to ensure that resources used or purchased come from sustainable and legal sources.

This criterion is probably the most difficult to check. We assume that most eco-friendly and sustainable furniture manufacturers are mindful of their processes and their impact on the environment and people. All companies that produce sustainable furniture are considered ethical unless publicly it’s known otherwise.

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