A few years ago, I embarked on a personal project: decorating my home sustainably. As part of my focus on living a greener life, I took it upon myself to find the most sustainable décor I could find. I want to commit every layer of my everyday life to living more in tune with the environment and reducing my carbon imprint. So I set out to research how sustainability in furnishings industry works, which in turn made me see a few fascinating details about green practices.
Always striving to buy local, my first impulse was finding great British brands. There’s a growing effort to rid of fast fashion furniture, the kind you’ll see changing on the big chain stores’ windows every season. In Britain, there’s a growing movement towards repurposing furniture materials for new and exciting designs that stand the test of time. Brighton-based shop Out There Interiors, for example, curates beautiful pieces from all over the world, and you’ll find many gorgeous and repurposed furnishings.
There’s a broad array of sustainable options in every stage of furniture’s cycle, from sustainably cutting wood to low-carbon transportation to the end point. British retailer Harley and Lola, for example, are deeply committed towards sustainability. This begins with sourcing furniture exclusively from ethically managed forests, and continues on with low-carbon delivery, use of recycled packaging and more. The ways in which brands can find their way into sustainability through creative means is a breath of fresh air!
Maintaining crafting traditions is also an essential part of many furniture stores and makers, like Kalinko, created by Londoners living in Myanmar. Their artisans are treated and paid fairly to follow the long-standing traditions of their craft, making beautiful things in a way that is friendly towards the environment and the people behind each piece.
British-based brands will often partner with crafters from elsewhere for raw materials, particularly when it comes to different kinds of wood. And one thing I found fascinating when researching about sustainable furniture how many companies led me back to Indonesia. Brands like British furniture store Barker and Stonehouse and European makers Ethnicraft and Notre Monde mention their engagement with Indonesian forests, which made me research a little more about them. The Southeastern Asian country is actually one of the world leaders of sustainable growth, making a massive effort towards building a low carbon industry. Currently one of the highest carbon emitters in the world, Indonesia is now shifting towards the future in a groundbreaking way.
There’s a major effort in reforestation, which is precisely where the furniture industry comes in. As one of the most biodiverse nations in the world, Indonesia has quite the responsibility. The national and local governments, along with the private sector and numerous NGOs, have made a commitment towards treating Indonesian forests sustainably. Replanting and educating small communities to follow traditional practices that don’t require immense emissions have become a staple in the country, with many European furniture brands choosing to build their businesses responsibly in Indonesia.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be expanding on the brands I mentioned above to include exciting global (and American) brands I have discovered, and their unique forms of mixing sustainable craftsmanship with beautiful, fashionable furniture. Sustainability practices don’t have to be restricted to those with the highest purchasing power, and the growing number of brands committed to our planet is a testament to that. Every bit we can do to reduce our imprint is essential – and there’s no reason not to enjoy beautiful things in the meantime.