How to Make Sustainable Furniture Choices
For budget-conscious consumers, frequent movers, or first-time renters, furniture meant to stand the test of time doesn’t exactly sound feasible. A Rs.2,139/- coffee table, Rs.14,260/- bed frame, and Rs.10,695/- dresser may sound enticing, but as many of us have found out the hard way, these particleboard wonders weren’t exactly built to last.
The primary issue with cheap, dispensable, slap-together-in-a-1-2-3 furniture isn’t just what it’s made of (we’ll get to that shortly). The bigger problem: It’s easy to chuck it. When there’s a low upfront investment, we may not be as attached to a set of inexpensive side tables as compared to heirloom oak ones. If it teeters, wobbles, breaks, or doesn’t fit a room’s changing design aesthetic, the simple solution is to toss furniture to the curb and buy new, right?
Though bargain-basement furniture offers a temporary solution, investing in replacements every few years can put a damper on your wallet and the environment. Read on for tips, from choosing sustainably sourced materials to giving old items another go, to help make your home just a little bit more green, and not just in the short term.
Choose Sustainable Materials
When purchasing new or used furniture, look for hearty materials that can handle years of use (take into account normal wear and tear from kids, pets, and moves from one home to another).
Bamboo is gaining praise as one of the smartest, eco-friendliest furniture choices available. While a tree may require dozens of years to reach a suitable size to complete a farmhouse dining table, bamboo is very fast growing. Technically a grass, bamboo can reach anywhere from 18 to 47 inches in a 24-hour period; compare that to the decades it takes for conventional lumber-producing trees to become harvestable. It also releases 35 percent more oxygen than the equivalent of forest trees. And when it comes down to bamboo’s use in furniture, the material is seriously durable — it’s stronger than mild steel.
Regularly sold as wicker furniture, rattan is especially durable when woven and is slow to show wear and tear. Since rattan is a member of the palm family, it grows much more rapidly than wood (much like bamboo).
While a low price tag is appealing, remember to think long term both for your finances and Mother Earth. You may be hard pressed to find a perfectly earth-friendly item, but it doesn’t hurt to make strides toward lasting, greener purchases. And remember, in the end quality materials trump just about all else.