Eco furniture is getting more popular. But so is greenwashing
Eco furniture enthusiasts enjoyed a treat at this year’s 100% Design exhibition, the commercial cornerstone of London’s Design Festival. This year’s event welcomed the addition of the new Eco Design and Build category, which featured innovative ranges of eco furniture ranges that minimised waste and were made from 100% recyclable materials.
Eco Design and Build showcased all the latest developments in energy saving technology, materials and the build methods used to design eco workplaces and homes. What’s more, leading designers, inventors and architects from across the eco furniture industry held discussions and presentations on what’s in store for eco furniture design in the future.
The addition of the Eco Design and Build category to the 100% Design Expo reflects how sustainability and environmental issues are high on the agenda. Eco furniture is slowly evolving from a niche to a mass market trend, which can only be a good thing for our homes, the environment and the world we leave for our children.
However, as with any new trend, there are always those that seek to hijack the popular consciousness for their own gain. Greenwashing, where ‘eco friendly’ labels are slapped onto products that might not deserve it, is on the rise. Unfortunately there aren’t yet any strict regulations on what can be defined as eco furniture. So here’s a rundown of what to look out for when buying eco furniture to ensure you aren’t duped into buying something with a greenwashed tint:
Made from FSC certified wood – The FSC label gives you the reassurance knowing that the eco furniture has been made from wood sourced from sustainably managed forests, where trees are replaced and allowed time to regrow.
Made from other renewable materials – Any furniture made from plastic (unless it’s recycled polyethylene) is unlikely to be genuine eco furniture. Petroleum based plastic is very polluting to manufacture, whereas bamboo or cork can be regrown very quickly.
Decorated with VOC free paints and varnishes – Conventional paints and varnishes can contain toxic chemicals that can emit into the air for years after they are applied. VOC (volatile organic compound) free paints and varnishes, however, are water based and kind to the environment and our lungs.
Locally sourced and built – Buying furniture that is built by hand locally gives you the reassurance knowing it probably has a higher build quality and also hasn’t generated all the carbon emissions of being shipped in from abroad. It’s also a good idea to ask eco furniture makers whether they source their building materials locally for that extra green stamp of approval.