When it comes to the prospect of outfitting your home entirely with eco-friendly furnishings, you may be at a loss as to where to start. Will you have to purchase molded chairs and tables made from a multicolored mush of recycled plastics? Or should you buy every stick of furniture from a yard sale or thrift store? Just how many “quirky” recycled-tire end tables can you really add to your space? Although you probably harbor some misconceptions about just what green furniture looks like, you’ll be amazed by the variety of options available to the decorator-in-the-making that’s looking to appoint a living space without harming the environment. Here are just a few of the potential furnishings you may want to consider.
1. Wood. Bed frames, dressers, couches, chairs, tables, desks, cabinets, and many other home goods are made from this less-than-eco-friendly material and most of them add to the deforestation that is slowly eating up our planet’s rainforests. But you have a lot of options to avoid this outcome. For starters, you could repurpose old furniture in different areas of the house, such as by slapping a new coat of paint on a bedside table and using it in the living room. There are also quite a few companies using sustainable sources of wood to create new home furnishings. Bamboo is a great option (grows faster, drought resistant), as is wood from environmentally responsible tree farms.
2. Metal. This is one item that is almost totally recyclable, which means you can often find new pieces of furniture (tables, chairs, bed frames, etc.) that have been made from repurposed metal elements. Of course, it’s also extremely durable, so shopping for second-hand items could yield some good results that may not even need refurbishing (or that really only need a new coat of paint or sealant). Since metal furniture kept indoors is unlikely to rust, it can last a long time.
3. Plastic. When it comes to plastics, there isn’t much good to be found. The only saving grace of this material is that it can sometimes be recycled and molded into new forms. However, there may still be pollution involved in the process that makes it less worthwhile for the eco-friendly consumer. In any case, you definitely have to embrace a modern aesthetic to utilize plastic furniture since it is usually considered “mod”.
4. Concrete. You might be surprised by just how many home furnishings you can find in this eminently green construction material. Certainly you have seen outdoor benches made of molded concrete, and you probably aren’t too keen to bring them indoors. But when it comes to tables of all sizes and shapes, you’ll find that there are many sleek and stylish options in concrete. When it is molded, stained, and polished, it might look more like stone or some other substance. And new lightweight formulas (foamed concrete) mean you don’t have to throw your back out every time you want to move the coffee table.
5. Recycled materials. Literally anything can be recycled and used for furniture. You could have a reclining chair made entirely of CDs, a table created from a washing machine drum, or a bench made out of skateboard decks (minus trucks and wheels). But you don’t have to go so literal. You could also buy a cabinet made from recycled wood planks.
About the Author
Sarah Danielson is a writer for Everlasting Hardwoods where you can find a great selection of Ipe furniture for your home.