First, let’s break down what sustainability really means, and how brand goals can fit into the definition. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability as “based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
Brands today, let’s be real, tend to leave out the “future generations” aspect of sustainability. Frameworks for progress are often relative: maybe their products are made with fewer resources, or generate less pollution, or last longer than others. While not perfect, this is a step in the right direction. A step further would involve making products with drastically reduced pollution or waste, or creating processes that benefit natural systems and offset production—sustaining our environment rather than just taking or harming less, and thinking about down the line, not just now.
Medley’s sustainable approach
As a brand with sustainability in mind, Medley’s big question is how we can bring our furniture to life while both minimizing and offsetting our impact on the environment. To source the EPA again, it’s estimated that over 9 million tons of furniture end up in landfills each year. That makes up just about 5% of everything this country throws away. In direct opposition to this trend, our goal is to make sustainable, high-quality furniture that's built to last, not end up in a landfill.
We manufacture all our products from scratch in the United States, and every step of the way, we use materials that are either natural, the highest quality we can find, or both. We're invested in lengthening the life cycle of our furniture and increasing its durability, and know that the more natural materials we use, the more biodegradable our products will be.
While we aim to build the most eco-friendly furniture we can, we know we’re not perfect, and we’re always thinking about how to improve. We've continued the evolution of our company by improving the quality of our furniture, adding materials with more green certifications, and hiring a green specialist to audit all of our products. And in thinking about the future, we now donate 3 trees for every 1 that we use to make our furniture in partnership with the National Forest Foundation. For all of our furniture—including upholstered pieces like sofas, chairs, and ottomans, as well as our solid wood pieces like tables and storage pieces—we source wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, ensuring that forests are harvested correctly and managed with goals for regrowth.
We know that there’s more work ahead: for us, for other brands, for other organizations, and for other individuals. And part of this work means adopting a truly sustainable approach that not only considers the present, but the future.