What is Green Furniture?
Green furniture, also called environmentally friendly furniture or sustainable furniture, is the best choice for green businesses seeking to minimize their impact on the environment. Green furniture is typically made from recycled, reclaimed or sustainably produced materials using environmentally responsible and green production processes.
Types of Green Office Furniture
Three popular materials that go into making green office furniture are metal, wood and recycled plastic. Steel or aluminum furniture is a good choice because it is often both recycled and recyclable. Furniture made from recycled plastic prevents a great deal of persistent plastic waste, some of which may take 1000 years or more to break down, from entering the landfills. Sustainable wood furniture is growing in popularity among environmentally sensitive consumers. Furniture made from wood reclaimed from old factories, railway tracks, buildings, bridges etc. is also an excellent option.
The materials used in producing green furniture and those used in finishing it are equally important. Furniture with finishes containing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) tends to off gas and cause high levels of indoor pollution.
Finally, shorter transportation distances and green packaging can help identify the right eco-friendly office furniture for your needs.
Green Furniture Certification
While selecting furniture for the office look for third party certifications. Certifications are an easy way of determining that the furniture has been properly evaluated for its ecological impact. There are a number of eco-labeling programs that can help businesses and entrepreneurs identify the best green office furniture:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification is awarded to furniture made from sustainably harvested wood.
- A Green Guard certification shows that the furniture is made from non-toxic finishing materials.
- Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certification indicates that the furniture is made from safe materials that are completely recyclable.
- The level” product certification program initiated by Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) International takes material characteristics, energy use, environmental impact and social responsibility into consideration for certifying products.
How to Choose Green Office Furniture?
- If the office furniture you are considering for your green business is not certified, make your choice based on environmentally friendly materials like bamboo or cork, which are sustainably grown and harvested. Furniture from reclaimed wood or recycled materials are also wise choices. Purchasing refurbished vintage furniture is another way to greatly reduce environmental impact.
- Choosing furniture that has been made locally drastically reduces both the cost and the carbon footprint involved in transportation.
- Choose furniture that is durable. Avoid buying temporary, cheap furniture. Buying furniture that is of good quality and good enough to be passed on reduces wasteful resource consumption.
- Furniture that can be disassembled or is recyclable furniture creates minimal damage to the environment. Look for C2C certification on the furniture.
- Furniture items that offer flexibility and have more than one use are a sensible choice. For example, desks from LegarÃ© can not only be assembled without tools but can be reverse configured for right handed and left handed users.
Three Green Office Furniture Companies
Erez Steinberg and Gia Giasullo, a husband and wife team of Studio EG, launched the Ecowork product line in 1996. Their furniture range includes office furniture that is functional, affordable and made from 95% recycled core material. Earlier centered only at Studio EG, Ecowork has now widened its business to serve the growing demand for eco-friendly office products. Besides using sustainable materials, their range of office products aims to reduce toxic emissions.
Knoll is committed to reducing waste and conserving natural resources. Besides offering Green Guard and FSC certified furniture, Knoll is continuously developing new eco-friendly materials. Reducing wastewater, cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, reusing wood scraps, and using post consumer recycled fibers and water based adhesives are some of the practices adding to the green quotient of furniture from Knoll.
The philosophy of Structured Green is to produce designs that last a lifetime and beyond. Structured Green produces furniture from locally grown, renewable wood, reclaimed or recyclable materials or FSC certified wood. They use nontoxic, VOC free finishes, the adhesives are water-based, and the furniture is finished with food grade Tung oil and local beeswax. Besides producing eco friendly furniture, Structured Green works out of an office that has dual flush toilets, uses very little paper and does not have air conditioning.
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