Ethical by Design – Furniture 20th November 2017

Here at RDA we strongly believe in reducing the impact on the environment and using recycled and sustainable materials wherever possible in our catering projects.

Our expert design team can suggest designs, equipment and materials which are more “ethical” in their characteristics, thereby enhancing the quality of the whole project.

In this week’s blog, we look at environmentally friendly furniture.

FSC Certified Wood

Trees are important for so many reasons, and our impact on forests in turn has a direct impact on our environment, our health, the food chain and even the climate.

Buying furniture made from controlled sources of sustainable wood drastically reduces the damage we unknowingly do to our eco-system.

FSC certified wood sources are forests that are controlled to ensure constant and definite growth. If wood is sourced from FSC certified forests, buyers and sellers can rest assured that their wood products are not only renewable, but that they come from forests that are managed responsibly. Wood is also a reusable resource and its recycling needs less energy in comparison to other materials such as steel or aluminium.

Wood is also attractive, practical and long-lasting. It is a versatile and durable material. Research has shown that in buildings and interiors it is perceived as warm, relaxing and welcoming.

 

Recycled metal and plastic
More and more furniture is being made from recycled plastics and metals. Recycled materials require less processing and fewer resources, and help support the market for recycled materials. Technologies are always improving, meaning that recycled plastics and metals are always going up in quality

Good eco-friendly furniture should lend itself to easy repair, disassembling, and recycling.

Look for furniture that’s durable and fixable
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of green products (and this definitely goes for furniture) is durability. If something is tough and/or can be readily repaired, this lessens the chance that it’ll end up in the landfill, and could easily save you money in the long run, even if it’s initially more expensive. Even recyclable materials if they break (and can’t be fixed) require energy and other resources to reprocess and then replace.

Low-toxicity furniture
Almost everything offgasses, which isn’t necessarily bad, but synthetic materials or those treated with synthetic substances can offgas chemicals which are toxic. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are the most common family of chemicals that are offgassed. Flame retardants and formaldehyde are common VOCs offgassed by furniture.

Look for furniture that is untreated or treated with natural substances, like natural wood finishes, or naturally tanned leather. Organic cotton is also less likely to be treated with toxins. Another great way to dodge toxic chemicals is to buy furniture that is vintage or second-hand and has already done most of its offgassing.