Today, consumers can buy sustainable wood furniture confident in the knowledge that their purchase will have a minimal impact upon the environment. This wasn’t always the case.
While eco-conscious consumers have been asking for sustainable wood furniture for some time, industry leaders have been slow to heed their demands. Citing the bottom line, large manufacturers have persisted in the notion that clear cutting forests and shipping the wood elsewhere is the best method to build capital.
Yet, more and more frequently, consumers, builders and manufacturers alike are redefining that bottom line, with an understanding that natural resources are, in fact, the greatest capital of all, and that without replenishing them, it is the conventional ways of producing wood furniture that are unsustainable.
Ecology-minded furniture makers are placing an emphasis upon their “green” products, positioning themselves into a solid niche in the market. With so many dealers offering sustainable furniture, however, it becomes important to establish that the furniture actually meets sustainability guidelines.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests, certifies products that meet the standards of sustainability, focusing on methods used to harvest trees, but also mandating that wildlife habitats are protected and that soil is not eroded. The FSC label allows customers to buy with confidence.
For wood to be considered sustainable, it should come from a forest that is managed in a restorative fashion. While any wood can be labeled sustainable under this criteria, slow-growing hardwoods are deemed less easily replenished than those that grow more quickly. Another consideration is the locality. Wood harvested locally and bought locally is usually considered green, as it sustains local economies.
The greenest material may be bamboo, which is not really a wood at all but a member of the grass family Poaceae. Unlike trees, bamboo can grow to full height and girth in a single growing season of 3–4 months. Today, not only cane bamboo is used for sustainable furniture, but a plywood formed by heating and attaching layers of bamboo together. Bamboo plywood is often used to fashion beds, tables and desks.
Wood, of course is not the only component of furniture. Conscientious furniture makers also pay attention to fibers used in fashioning pillows, seat and cushions. Made from the sap of rubber trees, natural latex foam is biodegradable, and resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew. Wool is another natural fiber, valued for its beauty and durability as much as for its sustainability. Fabrics that are made from recycled materials or manufactured with methods that do not harm the environment are also considered sustainable.
Responsible makers of sustainable wood furniture take even the glues, stains and finishes used in crafting furniture into consideration. Water-based glue is less toxic and less flammable than solvent-based glue. Solvent-free stains and finishes are made using plant oils and waxes.
Sustainable furniture meets the “recycle, reduce, reuse” standards of ecologists. A fine piece of sustainable wood furniture is more likely to be kept and valued. For your high quality sustainable wood furniture, be sure to visit Medley today!