Written by Miranda Huey
|Tuesday, 08 September 2009|
Furniture: Guide to Making Yours Eco-Friendly
BENEFITS for the environment: In order to make most furniture, companies need to use a great deal of energy and extract a lot of natural resources. The high carbon cost of transporting heavy, bulky items contributes directly to global warming, while the deforestation means a decrease in both carbon sinks and biodiversity.1 Eco-furniture minimizes the materials and energy that go into constructing and transporting the furniture.
BENEFITS for your health: A recent study revealed that most furniture contains toxic halogenated flame retardant, which can cause cancer or disrupt hormone production. However, safer alternatives are available.2 If you buy natural, reused, or low-toxicity furniture, at least your own furniture won't be fuming toxic particles into your home.3
BENEFITS for your wallet: While it's true that some eco-furniture can be really expensive, other ones that use recycled materials are often much, much cheaper than even standard furniture.
Cost: Low to High
The price of your eco-furniture is wildly variable, from the most expensive designer eco-tables to some cheap, second-hand furniture.
Time and effort: Low to Medium
Once you know what to look for, the time and effort you put into buying eco-furniture is essentially the same as the time and effort you normally put into buying furniture.
Instructions: When you go out into the store, remember the basics of sustainable furniture. There are three guidelines to follow when finding eco-friendly furniture. First, make sure that manufacturing your furniture will help preserve the natural environment. Second, look for furniture that reuses materials. Third, think about the transportation of your furniture to lower the carbon footprint of whatever you purchase.
Preserve the natural environment:
1. Durable: Fragile furniture breaks easily, and most people tend to throw out broken furniture, wasting space in a landfill. Buying yet another piece of furniture uses up even more scarce resources. On the other hand, durable furniture will be able to withstand normal wear and tear, saving you money. It might even last long enough for you to sell it when you want to upgrade, which would actually earn you money.4Reuse materials:
1. Vintage means recycled: Second-hand furniture literally recycles the same furniture, using all the same resources, energy, and processing that usually goes into making a piece of furniture. Plus, most toxic chemicals will have already dissipated most of their gases, keeping your home healthier. However, make sure to look out for lead, which is always toxic and should always be avoided. 10Lower shipping/carbon footprint:
1. Buy local: Buying local furniture minimizes transportation and therefore the carbon cost of moving extremely heavy furniture, whether you have it shipped home or you use your own vehicle to lug it home from the store.16Online brands: If you like shopping for furniture in the comfort of your own home, try these online green furniture shops. Many of these brands incorporate a number of the above aspects in making furniture sustainable.
8 http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/green-furniture/green-furniture-top-tips.html; http://www.greenguard.org/Default.aspx?tabid=51.
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|Last Updated ( Friday, 19 October 2012 )|