Furniture is generally considered to be a necessary aspect of furnishing a home. But although you may not have thought of it, shopping for furniture — like most of your activities — impacts more than just your immediate living space. Here are some tips on buying furniture with the environment in mind:
- Research Sustainable Materials
Some furniture building materials are greener than others. The good news is that these often line up with what is most durable, too. Solid wood is a classic choice that can be responsibly harvested, and you may even find some options made with bamboo. If you do buy plastic, look to see if it’s made from recycled materials. You also might be surprised at which materials are green. Leather furniture, for example, is usually made with the by-products of the beef industry. That means that a luxurious, high quality furniture piece covered in leather may actually be using what would otherwise be wasted.
- Buy for the Long Haul
Instead of setting yourself up to buy new furniture every few years, leaving your cheap, broken furniture destined for the landfill, think about pieces that will last a lifetime. Solid materials and good craftsmanship cost more, but it’s likely that the cost will even out over time. And even if your current obsession with modern furniture, early American furniture styles or anything else passes, this furniture can be refurbished for use in another home.
- Shop Local
Long-distance transportation comes at a cost. The fuel used to ship materials to manufacturers (often overseas), move products between U.S. warehouses and then finally deliver it, flat-packed, to your front door can be saved by buying from a local furniture-maker.
- Look for Flexible Pieces
Check out modular or modifiable options that can allow you to use a piece of furniture in multiple spaces (or be more successful in passing it along to a successive owner).
- Upcycle With Care
Often, older pieces that you pick up used — whether from Craigslist, a thrift store or your parents’ attic — can be refurbished with minimal effort. A little paint or some inexpensive fabric can turn a sturdy but ugly vintage piece into a showpiece. A word of caution: Upholstered pieces, in particular, can bring some unwelcome guests into your home. Bedbugs have made a big comeback, especially in crowded cities, so you may want to refrain from just picking up furniture off the side of the road.
Do you have any more tips on buying furniture that can balance individual preferences with the needs of the planet? Do you have any other tips on buying furniture in general? Share your thoughts in the comments!