Making furniture choices that will serve you and the planet for years to come
There comes a point in our lives where we move from seeing furniture as a means to an end, think cheap flat-pack, to an investment that will serve our family for years to come. This is particularly true when it comes to shopping for bigger items such as beds, tables and sofas that when shopped smartly for can last a lifetime or beyond. But how do you choose items that not only help the planet but are also going to last.? We caught up with Arnaud Mouton, Business Development Manager from local eco-friendly brand Soul & Tables to get his advice:
Look for eco-friendly credentials
Sustainably sourced furniture provides environmental, social and economic benefits. They protect public and environmental health over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until their final disposal. When buying solid wood, make sure they’re using a sustainable lumbering practice that includes new seedlings which are planted faster than trees are removed. All the teak wood used by Soul and Tables is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which means it is sourced using low-impact logging methods (read more about why we love Soul & Tables here).
Check the materials
Cheap furniture is typically sold at an attractive price point because somewhere within its life cycle a compromise has been made, be it the quality of the material, craftsmanship, or the labour used to produce it. A lot of fast-furniture is made from particle board and then covered in laminate or veneer. This means that if the surface gets damaged it can’t be sanded back and re-painted like solid wood. Therefore a lot of mass produced fast furniture accounts for a large proportion of landfill waste. It is difficult to recycle because it is made of composite materials and laminated particle board, which is not biodegradable.
Reduce chemical emissions
Your purchase acts as a conscious effort to reduce waste and as a vote to support ethical labour. Not only are you doing your part towards minimising your carbon footprint, but when you buy eco-furniture that’s made with minimal amounts of chemicals, you’ll get less harmful pollutants, like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), released into the air inside your home. Plus, purchasing ethically helps to support local communities, designers and craftsmen in their work to ensure they are compensated and treated fairly.
Opt for natural wood
Investing in solid wood furniture means you can increase the item’s life span by maintaining and treating it. Apart from that, using placemats and coasters will help avoid marks, and any spills should be cleaned up immediately with a dampened cloth and natural soap. Make sure you always work in the direction of the grain. Though natural materials tend to discolour overtime, you can prevent this by avoiding direct sunlight and moving decor placed on top from time to time to keep surfaces consistent. Soul and Tables offers complimentary staining and varnishing depending on the finish of the wood, and full servicing of discoloured or defective scratches or chips.
Purchase fewer items of better quality
This will allow you to keep your furniture for a longer period of time and cut down on contributing waste as soon as your table’s laminate starts to disintegrate. You can adopt the minimalist mindset by cutting back on the amount of furniture in one space by looking for pieces with flexibility. Something that’s both practical and multi- purpose, such as a stool that doubles as a side table.
Opt for items that are timeless and stylish, rather than trendy. A classic piece, such a solid wood dining table, will stand the test of time, reducing the need to purchase a new table every few years. With timeless and classic designs it also means you are able to cater to any interior or surrounding style, regardless of where your new home is.