You’ve found a way to recycle as much as you can. You remember to take your own bag to the grocery store. You received the tax break for making your home more energy-efficient. The local farmer’s market provides you with produce. And you ride your bike or walk rather than driving whenever possible. Still, there’s more you want to do to help with the environment. What about furniture? There are three ways to find eco-friendly furniture that is both modern and green.
Because consumers are requesting it more often, furniture companies are increasing the number of eco-friendly products they manufacture. A piece of furniture can be considered green only under these conditions:
- It has a FSC certification indicating the wood comes from a sustainable source.
- It is made of bamboo (which is a rapidly growing grass and is therefore sustainable), metal, or glass.
- It is made locally, thereby reducing carbon emissions that would have occurred if the product has been shipped from a long distance.
- It is painted, stained, or finished with water-based products.
- Any fabric contains untreated natural fibers colored with eco-friendly dyes.
Salvage old pieces of furniture from a thrift store, the curb, garage sales, or Craigslist. With a little elbow grease and some creativity, you can bring life back to a discarded item. Using water-based paints and some recycled hardware, you can create a unique, modern piece for Austin condos that otherwise would have perished in a landfill.
There are numerous DIY sites that show ideas for using reclaimed window frames to create a table top, old drawers to create shadow boxes, or old clothes to make throw pillows. Instead of throwing out an old chair, consider reupholstering it with organic fabric. If you’re giving a makeover to a vintage piece of furniture, remember to take precautions for lead paint should you decide to refinish it. For safety purposes, it’s best to not use vintage items for small children who could accidentally ingest old lead paint.
Most larger cities that have a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity also have a Re-Store. The Re-Store is a collection of reclaimed, unused, and donated items from demolitions or construction projects. The items are sold at a very low-cost and all the proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity. Buying reclaimed items there means you help the environment and a great cause with a single purchase.
The final option for finding eco-friendly furniture is to make it yourself. Using the standards mentioned in the Purchase section to buy your supplies, design your own pieces for your condo. Austin could always use some extra weirdness.
In order to be as eco-friendly as possible when furnishing your home, consider the entire life of the piece both before and after you own it. Are the materials eco-friendly? How will it fare in a landfill someday? What can you do to extend the life of the piece and keep it out of a landfill for as long as possible?