You already do your part to follow a green lifestyle, whether that means bringing your own tote bag to the grocery store or taking shorter showers in order to save water. But, as you’ve mastered these steps toward eco-friendliness, you want to do more.
Purchasing eco-friendly furniture is a great place to start. It’s no surprise that the furniture industry uses a lot of resources: according to a 2013 report, one percent of the world’s commercially used wood went toward making IKEA products. That’s just one store’s footprint — imagine how many resources go into the world’s tables, chairs, bathroom fixtures, fabric accents…
Fortunately, we can slowly but surely start to reduce that staggering statistic. Here are 10 tips for choosing eco-friendly furniture to get you going on your green mission:
“There’s so much you can do to
ensure that your home runs in a way
that works for you and the environment.
Purchasing green furniture is a great start,
and you’re well on the way.”
1. Buy Secondhand
Think about it: secondhand furniture you buy at a thrift shop, on Craigslist or at a real-life yard sale has already been made. That means you won’t use any new resources by purchasing a gently used item, although you might use a few supplies to give it a cosmetic update. But purchasing secondhand furniture also stops large pieces from ending up in landfills, where they’ll inevitably go if their owners don’t find a new home for them.
2. …Or Scope Out Pieces Made From Recycled Materials
In a similar vein, you can often find furniture made from recycled materials, and that’s clearly an eco-friendly choice when it comes to decorating. Sites like Cradle to Cradle make it easy for you to find certifiably recycled materials and items that are equal parts green and stylish. Once you buy a piece made from recycled materials, you’ll also grow the market for this type of furniture, thus making even more styles available in the future.
3. Invest in Heirloom Pieces
If you can’t find the piece you want in its eco-friendliest form, then make sure the traditional piece you buy is of the utmost quality. That way, it can be used in your home for years to come, and even be passed onto someone else as an heirloom down the line.
Seek out high-quality, durable materials that won’t have to be replaced very often, if ever. Natural furniture made of logs can be customized to your tastes and withstand the domestic elements, as trees do in nature.
4. Seek Out Bamboo
Bamboo is one of the eco-friendliest materials out there because the plant grows oh-so-quickly, replenishing its supply in seemingly no time at all. Fortunately, many furniture manufacturers have caught onto this fact, producing beautiful, high-quality pieces from the tall stalks. You can also find bamboo flooring materials, for example, if you want to completely redecorate a room.
5. Break It Down
When choosing #eco-friendly #furniture try and avoid manmade substances in favor of furniture made from all-natural materials.Click To Tweet
Okay, so you won’t want to disassemble your new furniture as soon as you get it delivered, but it’s good to know just how easily you can break it down in the future. That way, you can take them apart piece by piece and recycle everything that’s recyclable. Some furniture, called “monstrous hybrids”, don’t allow you — or the earth — this eco-friendly option, meaning you might send a ton of reusable materials to the landfill down the line.
6. Consider the Item’s Flexibility
You might love the idea of a super-sized sectional sofa that allows your entire family to comfortably recline. But, what if you move one day in the future? How will you move that piece from point A to point B?
In order to make a piece of furniture practical in the long run, make sure it’s flexible and easy to use. That might mean it’s easy to pick up and move, like lightweight dining chairs, or functional, like a dining table with a removable leaf so it fits parties of different sizes. The longer a piece of furniture will work for you, the better.
7. Avoid Flame-Resistant Finds
It might seem counter-intuitive, but flame-resistant furniture isn’t as safe as it sounds. Over time, the fabric treated with these flame-retardant chemicals will begin to emit the toxins into your room. Plus, some research has shown that the coating does little to stop a fire once it’s already alight.
8. Go Natural
Flame retardants aren’t the only unnatural substances going into the furniture you buy. Formaldehyde is a common addition to pressed wood furniture, fabrics and insulation. But it’s also been found to be a cancer risk, as it becomes toxic when heated and released into the air. This process can happen even in furniture items when they’re near to radiators, stoves, etc.
As a rule of thumb, then, try and avoid any manmade substances in favor of furniture made from all-natural materials. Untreated wood, for example, won’t contain formaldehyde. You can also choose wool, cotton, down or any other material that’s made in nature — and not in a science lab.
9. Shop Locally
Where was your furniture made? How much fuel did it require to get from its manufacturer to the furniture showroom where you’re shopping? You can reduce the carbon footprint of your purchase by choosing something made by a local artisan. Plus, as an added bonus, your money will be funneled back into the local economy, further improving things in the world around you.
10. Lead a More Minimalistic Lifestyle
When it comes to furniture, the less you have, the more eco-friendly you are. So, as you decorate your home, fill it with as few pieces as possible. You just might find your space looks modern — and complete — with less. And you can rest easy knowing you’ve used the least amount of resources necessary to make your house into a home.
The First 10 of Many
These 10 eco-friendly tips are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much you can do to ensure that your home runs in a way that works for you and the environment. But purchasing green furniture is a great start, and you’re well on the way. All there’s left to do is get started — and make your house into an eco-friendly home.
About the Author
Kacey Bradley is the lifestyle and travel blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Along with writing for her blog, she frequently writes for sites like US Travel News, Thought Catalog, Style Me Pretty, Tripping.com and more! Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!
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