It’s Easier to Shop For Eco-Friendly Furniture This Holiday Season Than You Might Think
The effects of climate change are real. You can see it in the flooded streets of Miami or the wildfires in the midwest and west coasts or the droughts across the entire country. It’s undeniable that weather is getting more extreme each year. But, we’re not climate experts. We’re here to let you know there’s a way to positively impact the environment and that’s by purchasing truly eco-friendly furniture.
To do that, you’ll want to first look into brands or companies that sell furniture with a “Green Certification”. That’s especially important to look for when buying solid wood furniture.
A Green Certification comes from organizations such as the FSC, SFC and the SFI among others. Those organizations tell you of the use of sustainability in the manufacturing of your furniture, but it’s not fool-proof.
These certifications are held to such high esteem because 90% of the wood furniture sold in the US today is imported. No system is perfect though, there is always a risk your imported furniture could have materials in it that were illegally sourced.
Our Founder and CEO, Peggy Farabaugh, says she looks for two important criteria when searching for eco-friendly furniture:
- Locally made
- Natural materials (i.e. sustainably harvested or recycled/reclaimed)
Why is purchasing Eco-Friendly important?
- Erosion, flooding and loss of biodiversity in the rainforest
- Loss of homes and land by indigenous peoples & animals dependent on the rainforest
- Near extinction of iconic species, including the tiger, panda, Asian Elephant and Clouded Leopard
- Huge amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) being released into the atmosphere
It is estimated that 20 percent of global warming results from illegal, tropical rainforest destruction.
If you’re worried the furniture you’re interested in purchasing may come from a questionable source, just ask your furniture vendor. If they can’t tell you, look elsewhere for your eco-friendly furniture.
What effect does furniture quality have on sustainability?
Statistics we’ve seen show that the amount of inexpensive, low-quality furniture being produced has increased six-fold between 1960 and 2008. In the 1980s we start to see the production numbers increase drastically as we moved jobs overseas. A majority of imported furniture is made with particle board, MDF, pressed cardboard, staples and glue and typically has a life of 2-5 years before it ends up on the curb.
Look for high quality craftsmanship when sourcing sustainable furniture. Solid wood construction, robust joinery such as mortise and tenon and dovetail joints will serve your well over many years. It will also keep our landfills virtually furniture-free.
Does the Furniture Industry Publish a List of Best Green Practices?
The SFC, a non-profit coalition dedicated to promoting sustainable practices has published a list of best green practices for the industry. SFC members pledge to take steps to follow these recommendations and minimize carbon emissions, waste stream pollutants and un-recyclable content.
The group uses a detailed Life Cycle Assessment to analyze the environmental impact of their products, and a verifiable chain of custody as the only acceptable method for tracking wood flow. Members support the triple bottom line of People-Planet-Profit and lead the industry in developing awareness of best practices throughout their supply chains. Look for the designation of Silver, Gold or Platinum in an SFC member’s status to determine their level of commitment to the SFC mission and goals.
What Is the Best Green Furniture Certification?
At Vermont Woods Studios, we vote FSC. They are the most unbiased and their certification is the gold standard for the wood furniture industry. The FSC is an independent, third party, NPO founded by leaders in the environmental movement rather than by an industry group. The FSC certification addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological functions, old-growth forests, plantations, reforestation, native habitat, indigenous people’s rights, and sound management for timber production.
FSC is an international organization and probably the world’s most widely respected green seal of approval for wood furniture. It is the only LEED certification program approved by the US Green Building Council. It has however, come under intense criticism for perceived leniency, particularly towards a policy that allows logging in ancient, old growth forests.
Should I consider only FSC Certified Furniture as Green and Sustainable?
No. FSC certification is not for everyone and there are plenty of green furniture makers who are not FSC certified. Usually their objection is cost-based. Many small furniture manufacturers simply cannot afford the considerable price of obtaining and maintaining FSC certification paperwork. Those who do invest in FSC certification are often not recognized for it as they may be certified under a group certificate rather than under their own company name.
At Vermont Woods Studios, we’ve pledged to sell only eco-friendly furniture that is made here in Vermont. The wood is sourced from sustainably harvested North Eastern forests and each craftsman and workshop has their own green practices.
If you’d like to know more about a specific type of wood we use or finish, please feel free to contact our knowledgeable sales team.
This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.