As a retired carpenter, I have found many ways to build furniture. Most of them, I have to say, use unsustainable practices. Sadly like any industry, you will find companies that try and market their products as ‘green and sustainable’ while the truth looks a bit different.
This is exactly why I have created this list, so you don’t have to do all the research and can jump on to the company’s website and buy your eco-friendly furniture without second-guessing.
Now to give you more confidence as to how I choose why a company is sustainable, here are my criteria for the research I have done.
- Material e.g., bamboo and fast-growing timber
- How is it sourced
- Fair Trade Practices and other certifications
- Quality of paint used
- fair wages
As you see, it is very similar to sustainable fashion.
What makes furniture eco-friendly?
A furniture company that practices fair trade methods only harvests wood from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). Alternatively, recycled and reclaimed materials such as wood, glass, plastic and metal can be used to create sustainable furniture.
Sustainable furniture is made from materials with a high regrowth rate, such as bamboo or when choosing solid wood furniture from monetary pine. Although it still takes a pine tree 15 – 20 years for the lumber to be harvested.
Better alternatives are using reclaimed wood and recycled materials. For instance, this chair above is made out of aluminum, the most highly recyclable material in the world.
Additionally, companies that make sustainable furniture should not use toxic paints or hazardous chemicals, such as fire retardants that can damage your health through gassing off.
How are the workers being paid that made your furniture? Is the company practicing fair living wage methods, and are they also creating opportunities for the community? Thankfully the furniture industry is becoming greener and more socially responsible for the working conditions.
Everything needs to be transported, and since furniture is no different, look out for the company if they are using carbon offsetting programs. Also called climate offsetting furniture company. However, the best solution would be if the company you are wanting to get your furniture from is close by. The less they have to drive or ship your furniture the better for the environment.
Certifications to look for
When buying sustainable furniture, look for any certification that guarantees the materials used are actually sustainable or recycled and you are not just being greenwashed. Look for certifications like:
- The Blue Angel (Germany) that takes the complete life cycle of a product into account.
- Cradle to Cradle products innovations institute.
- FSC the Forest Stewardship Council.
- Green Seal helps to identify green products for the consumer.
Just to name a few.
Why should I buy sustainable furniture?
Carbon is created by everything we do. The same goes for building and transporting eco-friendly furniture. Even if sustainable materials are used in the creation of the furniture, transport also needs to be taken into consideration.
- See if you can buy your furniture shopping locally.
- Make sure the company uses responsible production practices
- Check that the company uses responsibly sourced materials
- Also, see if the eco-friendly furniture comes in eco-friendly packaging
- Look for handmade furniture
These are all factors you can take into consideration. Often it can be a question of affordability and with this, I suggest going secondhand.
Do sustainable furniture companies need to be expensive?
When using eco-friendly fabrics and local materials and paying fair wages to their workers, this extra cost has to be passed on somehow.
Think about it sustainably harvested wood is going to cost more since the yield is lower due to low-impact harvesting. Higher costs result from stricter standards.
Clearcut harvesting leads to a number of problems like land erosion, animal distinction loss of air quality and habitat. Responsibly sourced wood takes more time and therefore is more cost-intensive.
However, you can find a great selection of ethical furniture brands in this post.
Sustainable furniture brands
Without further ado, let me give you some examples of great sustainable and eco-friendly furniture for your home.
1. Masaya & Co.
About Masaya & Co
It started in Nicaragua as a rainforest rehabilitation project that later became one of the scene’s top sustainable furniture brands. You can not go past these beautiful handmade and sustainably harvested hardwood furniture.
The company plants 100 trees for each item sold and has planted over 1.000.000 trees.
They have the biggest operating sawmill in the country and employ over 180 people. The timber is being dried on-site using its solar kiln.
Products by Masaya & Co
You find everything from tables and desks, entryway, living room, dining room, storage, and office.
Coming out of Pennsylvania Emeco makes beautiful timeless furniture that are extremely durable. They started to make chairs for the Navy in 1944, which they still make to this day. Their pieces consist of waste material designed in the most clever and eco-friendly way.
Using recycled water bottles and highly recyclable aluminum these furniture made with environmentally friendly materials is designed to last a lifetime.
Recycled Wood-filled Polypropylene, wood, eco concrete and reclaimed cork.
Products by Emeco
You find everything from chairs, stools, benches, day beds, outdoor furniture and tables.
3. Etsy Reclaimed
About Etsy Reclaimed
Like the name says you are getting furniture made of reclaimed wood and other materials. Etsy reclaimed furniture is one of the biggest online platforms for craftsmen and women of all kinds. You can find really unique art pieces like the one above while supporting local and sustainable artists and not big chains.
You will find everything here from handmade reclaimed wood to bamboo shelves and coffee tables made out of wine barrels. Recycled tiles and aluminum there are no limits.
Products by Etsy Reclaimed
You find everything from chairs, stools, benches, day beds, outdoor furniture, and dining tables, shelves, door knobs, dining room, you name it it is probably there.
This eco-friendly furniture brand offers free fabric swatches if you are not happy with the color or feel. They also build custom furniture for your needs. Once ordered the craftspeople start making your furniture in a family-owned fabric in North Carolina. They use non-toxic and sustainable materials for their luxury wooden furniture.
Sabai makes sustainable and affordable furniture from either recycled velvet or upcycled polypropylene. No toxic flame retardants or added formaldehyde are used in the making and 100% recycled fiber is used to fill the pillows. The wood comes from FSC-certified forests and domestically sourced maple.
Products by Sabai
Everything around comfortable luxurious couches. From a one-seater to a seven-seater. Ottoman and sofabed.
Style: Modern Classic
5. Alabama Sawyer
About Alabama Sawyer
Cliff Spencer and Leigh Spencer are the founders of Alabama Sawyer. Alabama Sawyer is all about saving fallen trees and logs from landfills and turning them into award-winning furniture pieces. Nothing goes to waste. Even the smallest piece is used as a chopping board. Each piece of furniture is unique.
Products by Alabama Sawyer
Organic modern dining tables, coffee tables, console tables, and side tables. Benches, cutting boards and side tables.
ep turns out we spend a lot of time in bed and having an organic mattress that doesn’t gass off any harsh chemicals is pretty important. Turns out the fire retardants used to “protect” you are actually being inhaled by you as you sleep.
Plushbeds is committed to providing you with the purest and healthiest eco-friendly mattresses on the market. Offering you an affordable toxic-free sleep.
Plushbed’s website is full of certifications that prove they are all about creating a healthy sustainable product.
Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS), GOTS Certified Organic Cotton and Wool, Eco-friendly memory foam that is unique to Plushbeds. No use of harsh chemicals in these mattresses.
Products by Plushbed
Mattresses, pillows, toppers, beds, and bedding.
7. Eco Balanza
About Eco Balanza
Aimee Robinson has been on a mission to create the ultimate organic sofa, one that is beautiful and comfortable yet embodies healthful living, environmental preservation and social responsibility.ecobalanza
Eco balanza makes boutique furniture that is made from sustainably sourced materials. Each item is handmade and custom ordered.
FSC certified wood, Jute and hemp, steel springs, organic cotton, wool from small farms and latex that is global organic latex standard (GOLS) certified.
Products by Plushbed
Sofas, bed headers
What makes furniture eco friendly?
Chairish is more something for the vintage furniture fan. It is an online store that holds many small sellers under its roof. You can find some really cool old vintage furniture here that you can give a new life to your home. Re-chairished is what they call it and it makes a lot of sense.
They offset 100% of the carbon emission created through transport. They are setting a great example for a circular economy. Ethical furniture doesn’t need to be new furniture if you can buy or salvage old and used ones.
Everything is second or third-hand.
Products by Charish
Chairish is a huge marketplace for small sellers so just have a browse and I am sure you find something you like.
You probably noticed that affordable sustainable furniture is a little more tricky to find. But I do hope you have discovered some new brands that you didn’t know before. In the end, I am always like why don’t I build it myself with local materials. But I understand that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you feel like I have missed some companies or you just would like to have your say on the subject feel free to comment below.