Making Sustainable Furniture Choices for Your Business

June 14, 2018
June 14, 2018 QA Group

Making smart business decisions no longer means thinking only of yourself, your employees, or your customers and clients. Present-day commercial entities are challenged with making sustainable choices that are as environmentally friendly as possible. 

Part of this involves considering how your furniture upgrades impact the environment, and what you might do to lessen that impact.

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Mass-Produced Furniture’s Environmental Impact

You’ve probably heard people lament that “they just don’t make things the way they used to.” Whoever first said this may have been speaking specifically about the furniture industry. 

Mass-producing is the norm today. Manufacturing products that are cheaply made and won’t last seems to be the go-to. This creates a continual cycle of waste. People buy cheap furniture, throw it away once it no longer works or suits them, and then buy more cheap furniture to replace it.

As this cycle repeats itself, it perpetuates deforestation, climate change, and landfill waste.

Deforestation

In the past 10 years, we’ve cleared over 380.5 million acres of tropical forests, or three times the land area of France. This is a completely unsustainable practice that destroys the habitat of many plants and animals, causes water runoff that leads to flooding and landslides, and increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Although paper production is the biggest driver of deforestation, furniture production is another major cause

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Climate Change

Greenhouse gas emissions don’t end with logging. 

As furniture manufacturers transport trees to sawmills, turn them into furniture, package the furniture, transport the furniture to warehouses, and eventually to clients, they produce more and more carbon dioxide. This majorly contributes to climate change.

Landfills

When people throw out old furniture they no longer want, it ends up in landfills. As it decomposes, this furniture produces a number of harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane. These gasses further contribute to the greenhouse effect and, consequently, global warming.

Sustainable Furniture Choices

Instead of buying mass-produced, low-quality furniture, try to reupholster or invest in durable furniture that will last.

Reupholster

If the furniture you’re looking to upgrade qualifies — for example, if it’s sturdy enough and isn’t damaged beyond repair — reupholstering is the most sustainable choice you can make. Reupholstering requires using fewer natural resources, since you’re not creating anything from scratch, and also contributes less to landfill waste.

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Because the process of reupholstering requires much less production and transportation, it produces significantly less emissions. In fact, one organization found that refinishing the furniture in 100 hotel rooms produced just 1.245 tons of carbon dioxide, compared to 125.33 tons when replacing all the furniture. 

These numbers will vary depending on the type and quantity of furniture your business is renovating, but reupholstering will prove incredibly more environmentally friendly regardless of your industry

Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Reupholstering also gives you the opportunity to choose eco-friendly materials. For example, when selecting fabric for your upholstery, you can consider whether it is:

  • Sustainable: Fibers come from rapidly renewable resources that have growth and harvest cycles of five years or less.
  • Organic: No pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers are used to grow the fibers.
  • Recycled: Fibers that come from post-consumer waste and post-industrial waste byproducts from the manufacturing process.

QA Group offers fabrics that meet all of these requirements. We’re happy to work with you to find a fabric that is both environmentally friendly and suitable for your business’s needs.

If you’re seeking a durable, eco-friendly frame, bench, table, chair, or other nonupholstered furniture piece, look for the following materials:

  • Sustainable or Reclaimed Wood: Look for earth-friendly and ethically sourced materials when you’re furniture shopping, such as sustainable or reclaimed wood. Wood from sustainable harvested tree farms or forests and reclaimed wood from old furniture or houses are great examples of eco-friendly materials.
  • Bamboo: This fast-growing plant is versatile enough to be used for furniture, flooring, veneers, and even window blinds. Since this plant is typically grown with few or no pesticides and is fast-growing, it is an environmentally friendly choice for furniture material.
  • Recycled Metal and Plastic: Recycled materials — including metal and plastic — require less processing, less chemicals, and less resources. 

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​​When Buying New, Consider Durability

If reupholstering isn’t an option, purchase higher-quality, durable furniture that will last to avoid contributing to the cycle of waste. 

When you purchase cheap, easily breakable furniture, time is ticking before it will inevitably end up in a landfill. Durable furniture that is able to be readily repaired will lessen this chance, which is an investment that can save you money and time in the long run. 

Purchasing durable furniture will also make it easy to pass that furniture on when your style changes, you no longer have room for it, or you upgrade to a different piece.

Buy Vintage

Furniture manufacturers really did have higher standards in the past. While this can make it hard to find quality new furniture, it makes buying vintage pieces a viable option. 

Even if it is significantly older, vintage and pre-owned furniture may last much longer than new mass-produced options, making for less landfill waste. These older options also require no additional resources to manufacture, so you’re not contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.  

Plus, vintage items can add unique character to your business’s space. 

In your search for the right furniture, you may find vintage pieces that need some work to be suitable for your commercial space. Don’t pass these by — they may just require reupholstery or refinishing to make them look brand new. 

Buy Local

Purchasing furniture from the area in which you’re located not only supports the local economy, but decreases the toll transportation and shipping take on the environment.

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Buy High-Quality New Furniture

When you have to buy new furniture, make the sustainable choice of a durable option — even if it means paying more. Buying well-made furniture could easily save you money in the long run and, like buying vintage furniture, lessens the waste that will end up in landfills.

If you’re not sure what makes a piece of furniture durable, work with someone who does. QA Group has a large variety of new products for sale for your business, and we’re also happy to answer any questions you have about furniture quality.  

Create Custom Pieces

If you can’t find vintage or new options that meet your needs, you can still be environmentally conscious by ordering custom furniture. 

This allows you to: 

  • ensure that your furniture is as durable as possible
  • choose eco-friendly materials, 
  • buy local (thus reducing carbon emissions due to transportation), and 
  • customize the style to your commercial space. 

Work With QA Group Today!

QA Group offers custom designs and builds for a variety of different types of furniture, including restaurant and bar seating, outdoor and patio seating, table tops and bases, guest room and common area furniture, and more.

Contact us today!

Featured image via PxHere