We're the first to acknowledge that sustainability has different meaning for different people. To some, it's a forward-thinking mind-set with a focus on adaptability and modern solutions. Others feel more comfortable with efforts to preserve the familiar, relying on renewable resources and popular directives to reuse, repurpose and recycle. Environmentally-friendly home decor and furnishings are not an impossible dream, and quality meets function and style in many of today's stunning designs.
Traditional furniture of beautiful wood is a lasting investment, but new options of bamboo, reclaimed timbers, cork and even recycled cardboard may become the classics of the future. Specialty woods from old rubber trees or fast-growing mango are also newly popular with green consumers. Both were previously destroyed when cut; using the wood for modern furniture production is both aesthetically and economically sensible. Many ecologically-sensitive companies routinely plant new seedlings for every tree that is harvested.
Natural is chic. Organic, unbleached cotton has a personality that many find very appealing. Bamboo and hemp, both fast-growing and sustainable, are used for everything from clothing to bath towels and sofa upholstery. Wool, of course, is a renewable resource and, with humane farming practices, it has regained favor for home interiors, including for carpeting, drapery and bedding. Investigate fabrics produced from soy protein, recycled polyester or natural cellulose (Tencel).
Being serious about sustainability requires an awareness not only of raw materials, but also of the ways in which they are used. In shopping for quality furnishings, it is important to consider the underpinnings of construction: the glues, finishes, paints, stuffing and padding, and the origin of each component. You might also want to consider the transportation involved, manufacturing efficiency, and final packaging and shipping practices.
Companies like Seattle-based EcoBalanza are dedicated to the principles of craftsmanship, lasting quality and environmental responsibility. Cisco Home produces trendy, funky and unique products across a spectrum of styles and genres. Environment Furniture achieves sophistication and sustainability by relying heavily on reusing old woods in innovative ways.