Environmentally-friendly furniture is any home furnishing created based on principles of recycling and the use of sustainable or renewable resources. This type of furniture has become popular in the wake of increased education about resource depletion, deforestation, pollution, and animal cruelty. There are many different types of environmentally-friendly furniture available to the consumer, using a variety of non-damaging techniques to obtain resources and manufacture beautiful finished pieces. Some common types of environmentally-friendly furniture include reclaimed or recycled wood furnishings, sustainable material furniture, organic and sustainable fabric pieces, and faux leather and silk products.
Recycled and reclaimed pieces are often durable, inexpensive, and help reduce deforestation and landfill pollution. Reclaimed wood is taken from demolished ships, buildings, and other manufactured products and re-milled into usable lumber. This not only helps reduce the amount of woodcutting necessary for furnishings, but also can create pieces of furniture with long and interesting histories. Recycled materials, such as plastic and steel, can also be crafted into new versions through a variety of eco-safe processes, making the plastic bottle of today the wood-blend bed stand of tomorrow. Another excellent way to engaging in environmentally-friendly furniture practices is to buy consignment or second-hand furnishings rather than brand new pieces.
Environmentally-friendly furniture built from sustainable or renewable materials prevents the depletion of slow-growing or non-renewable natural resources. Renewable and sustainable furniture usually uses raw materials from carefully managed plantations and farms, such as bamboo, rather than natural forests. Some regional environmental boards may certify certain products as renewable, based on adherence to rigorous standards. At the very least, care may be taken to avoid certain slow-growing hardwoods, such as teak, mahogany, and redwood.
Fabric furniture coverings, such as cushions or chair-pads, can also be a source of environmental damage if not properly sourced. One way to help reduce pollution and habitat depletion is by using organic natural fabrics, such as organic cotton. Certain synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, are also considered environmentally-friendly choices for furniture coverings.
Those concerned about animal cruelty in the furniture environment may want to avoid products made from animal sources, such as suede, leather, and silk. The production of silk generally involves the slaughter of thousands of moths per batch, while suede and leather are made from skins of cows, sheep, and other mammals. Luckily, environmentally-friendly furniture is often available with synthetic silk or leather fabrication, so that the look of the natural material can still be obtained without harming animals.