In this post, we'll look at the who, what, where, when, why and how of responsibly made furniture.
Why Responsible Furniture?
Since you've made it to our blog, you probably live a a sustainable lifestyle and practice Ethical Consumerism. You think about your impact every time you make a purchase and you spend in a way that aligns with your values. Maybe you're well versed in sustainable options for your car, your food and your energy and now you're turning your attention to your furniture. You know the furniture industry is notorious for poor environmental practices and you want to avoid that. You want to live your values-- that's the why of responsible furniture.
LN Smith said, "every dollar you spend is a vote you cast for the world you want". That pretty well captures the why of responsibly made furniture. You want to live your values.
What is Responsible Furniture?
In my mind, the relevant authority is the Sustainable Furnishings Council. The SFC is a coalition of manufacturers, retailers and designers dedicated to expanding the adoption of environmentally sustainable practices across the home furnishings industry. SFC defines responsible, "sustainable", "environmentally-safe", "eco-friendly" furniture as that which is made and distributed in ways that protect our planet... ways that minimize carbon emissions, waste stream pollutants, un-recyclable content and materials from unsustainable sources. It's furniture you can feel good about bringing into your home and that includes vintage & used furniture from the thrift store. The SFC evaluates the authenticity of responsible furniture makers using their Wood Furniture Scorecard.
POLYWOOD is responsible, environmentally friendly outdoor furniture. These Adirondack chairs are made of recycled milk jugs. Almost 800 plastic containers/chair are removed from the waste stream through this process and the chairs are so durable we cover them with our lifetime guarantee. They'll never end up in a landfill like most outdoor furniture.
Who Makes It and How?
I'm sure there is plenty of sustainable furniture made around the world but the fact is that most furniture imports in US markets are not made responsibly. Oftentimes the wood is harvested illegally, the labor is forced, the finishing materials are toxic and a great deal of oil is expended to ship it to you. Here in the USA, responsible furniture is made locally by small American furniture companies. It's made by American craftspeople who earn a fair wage. It's made with materials that are developed sustainably. It doesn't contribute to climate change. It's made in workshops or factories that practice energy efficiency, waste minimization and circular economic principles.
Responsible furniture is made by American craftspeople who earn a fair wage in workshops that employ circular economic principles.
Where Can I Buy Sustainable Furniture?
Buy locally. You'll be surprised how many furniture makers are in your area, hoping for you to stop by their shop or give them a call. A google search should get you off to a good start in finding the best match for your needs. Barring that, come visit us at Vermont Woods Studios! We are the experts in American made wood furniture and we deliver locally, regionally and nationally. All of our wood is harvested sustainably in well managed North American forests and we plant tree saplings to replace those we harvest. Our craftspeople are almost all right here in Vermont and we back their furniture with a lifetime guarantee. It will never end up in a landfill.
This is our Stonehurst Furniture Showroom in Vernon, Vermont. Here we showcase and sell beautiful, responsibly made, solid wood furniture that's built by local craftspeople. Come visit us or shop online.
When's the Best Time to Buy Responsible Furniture?
Winter, spring, summer, fall... there's really no particular season to buy responsible furniture. Buy it when you need it and sooner than later. Negotiate with your craftsperson to get a fair price. The pandemic has created long lead-times so expect to wait a few months or more for delivery to your home.
With responsible furniture, you're not really looking for a sort of Amazon Prime Day or Wayfair Wayday. Those 70% off sales are only made possible through unspoken subsidies paid by makers and the environment. The deep discount often means the maker had to sell at a loss and/or the resources were stolen from land that was destroyed and left barren. The best time to buy responsible furniture is when you need it. Or, during these post-pandemic days, several months prior to when you need it. Lead times for local, American made furniture are still abnormally long due to supply chain issues and labor shortages. Try to plan ahead and buy before your need becomes desperate.
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