With #ShelterInPlace becoming the current norm for most of the world, a lot find themselves finally having the time to go on that long-overdue interior design project, while some just want to add furniture pieces to accommodate working from home.
If you’re looking for eco-friendly furniture, we’re here to help you find essential furnishings that are not only comfortable and stylish but sustainable as well.
- 1 How to Go Green Furniture-Hunting
- 2 8 Green Furniture Brands Worth Checking Out
How to Go Green Furniture-Hunting
Before we go to the main event, first check out our tips on how to make furniture-hunting as environmentally friendly as possible.
1. Make Buying Your Last Resort, Not Your First Option
“The most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.” Wise words there from Joshua Becker. Any product, no matter how sustainably or ethically sourced, still consumes the earth’s resources and still has an environmental footprint. That said, be resourceful and find ways to make use of what’s already around. Here are some ideas:
- An armchair for a watch your ex gave you? Swap and barter groups are all the rage right now (and they’re actually quite fun too!). Search social media for barter groups in your area or check out swap websites. You may find furniture pieces that go for way below their monetary value.
- Know family or friends who are moving out? Ask if they’ve got furniture pieces they’re willing to part with and offer to give these a second home.
- Check out your local Freecycle or FreeGive community and see if there are people nearby who are willing to give away free furniture.
2. Choose Multipurpose Items
Why buy two (or three) when you can buy one? If you don’t have the money or the space for multiple furniture items, choose functional pieces that can be used more than one way, like a folding chaise that converts to a bed or a bookshelf that doubles as a study table.
3. Think Long-Term
Think of all those cheap, low-quality furniture flooding the market that will probably fall apart in a matter of years, even mere months, and will most likely end up in landfills. Just like how you would choose your clothes, go for well-made and durable furniture pieces, never mind if you have to shell out more.
4. Choose Green Materials
When going furniture hunting, consider the materials and resources used, as some have a greater environmental impact than others. Look for furniture pieces made from these materials:
- Bamboo – Durable, versatile, regenerates quickly, and can be harvested many times without harming the plant (just make sure to look for certification showing that it’s sustainably sourced)
- Reclaimed wood – Wood from old houses, buildings, furniture and the like that have been saved from going to landfill
- Recycled and recyclable materials – Furniture made with post-consumer content; make sure to go for recyclable pieces too (that is, furniture that can be easily taken apart so the individual components can be recycled)
5. Go for Eco-Certified Brands
Just because a piece of furniture is made of wood, doesn’t automatically mean it’s “eco-friendly.” Look for FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification to ensure that the wood used to make it is sustainably grown and harvested.
For reclaimed wood, look for Rainforest Alliance and Rediscovered Wood certifications. Additionally, you can also check for Oeko-Tex or Greenguard certifications to make sure that a piece of furniture has low toxicity.
8 Green Furniture Brands Worth Checking Out
Here are eight furniture brands that use materials acquired from sustainable resources and recycled materials and are keen on fair trade and responsible production practices:
1. Adventures in Furniture
Known for: Handmade, responsibly sourced custom furniture designed to last London-based Adventures in Furniture sets the bar high when it comes to sustainable furniture manufacturing. A Guardian Sustainable Business awardee, AIF uses only FSC certified or recycled solid wood for their furniture pieces.
Alongside sustainability, AIF also practices transparency: their online furniture catalogue features an Environmental Rating Guide, which lets customers in on the environmental impact of producing each product.
Known for: all-natural, organic mattresses and beddings
Avocado is a California-based maker of natural and organic mattresses, bedding, and furniture. Unlike polyurethane-foam mattresses sold in markets, Avocado mattresses are made with all-natural latex rubber. Only sustainable materials go into their beddings, like organic cotton, sustainably sourced merino wool, and kapok fill. They also make eco-friendly retardant- and chemical-free furniture out of 100% reclaimed wood and metal.
Known for: sustainably sourced, pet-friendly custom modern furniture
New York furniture brand Burrow is famous for making “the internet’s favourite couch.” Aside from being comfy, stain- and scratch-resistant, and non-toxic, their sofas and sectionals are also made from eco-friendly materials like responsibly forested wood, which are shipped in 100% recycled cardboard boxes.
Known for: wide range of reclaimed and recycled furniture
Etsy is a treasure trove of handmade, original, and sometimes one-off vintage furniture pieces. Check out Etsy’s Reclaimed and Recycled Furniture market for a vast selection of eco-friendly furniture pieces, like wall art made of salvaged wood and an ottoman footstool sewn from coffee bean sacks.
Known for: High-quality, responsibly sourced mid-century modern furniture
If you’re looking for furniture pieces inspired by the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright and Eero Saarinen, look no further than Joybird. This Los Angeles furniture brand takes pride in their transparent production, skilled (and fairly compensated) workshop team, and sustainably sourced heirloom furniture products.
The company is also well aware of the environmental impact of their manufacturing process and takes active steps to offset it. Partnering with conservation groups, Joybird commits to planting more trees than were used to make each item ordered from them.
Known for: easy-to-assemble bed frames
If you’re looking for a high-quality bed frame, look no further than Thuma, a San Francisco-based brand that’s earning rave reviews online for their cutting-edge but deceptively simple bed frame that assembles in under an hour. Here’s what you need to know about Thuma’s platform bed:
- Their rubberwood bed frames come from rubber trees that would have otherwise been scrapped or burned by plantations at the end of their latex-producing life.
- All the pieces cleverly interlock, requiring only two hand-tightened screws.
- Thuma ships with minimal packaging; your order comes in a set of three modules that comes flat-packed in recycled cardboard with no styrofoam or packing peanuts
- The company partners with One Tree Planted, planting a tree with every bed sold.
7. Urban Woods
Known for: Handcrafted furniture made from reclaimed wood
There are only a few furniture companies that actively look for ways to curb their environmental footprint, and we’re glad to say that Urban Woods is one of them. This California-based company avoids tropical timber (a popular furniture material, but oftentimes illegally sourced and notorious for contributing to deforestation).
Instead, Urban Woods sticks to using vintage reclaimed wood, which not only infuses their pieces with character but also diverts precious wood waste from landfill. The company also keeps its manufacturing processes as environmentally friendly as possible by making all its furniture by hand and using only water-based, non-toxic stains.
Known for: eco-friendly and nature-inspired decor, home accessories, and furnishings
With a name that translates to “living earth,” it’s easy to understand where VivaTerra’s heart and values lie. Their mission — “to be part of a better world based on kindness, fairness and social equality” — is a refreshing alternative to the usual capitalist mindset of only being in business for profit. Here’s why we love this furniture brand (and why you should too):
- Sustainable and ethical production: All VivaTerra products are handcrafted by artisan communities whom the company ensures are paid fair wages.
- Responsibly sourced materials: VivaTerra uses only FSC-certified, recycled, reclaimed, or natural materials.
The company also regularly partners with various nonprofit organizations in order to give back to the community.
Know of any other sustainable and eco-friendly furniture brands worth checking out? Or do you have any more tips to add when it comes to shopping for green furniture? Tell us more about it. Leave a comment below!