Furniture has become increasingly disposable over the past half-century, with the Environmental Protection Agency putting numbers of furniture and furnishings tossed out every year at over 12 million (and that’s just the US).
Our regular disposing has been born in tandem with the rise of ‘fast furniture’ — cheap items made with a short lifespan in mind. Amid a cost of living crisis, this false economy is attractive. But in the long run, well-made, eternally stylish furniture that can outlast its poorly made counterparts by 30 years makes more economic sense. Why go through a dozen office chairs when one will do you a lifetime?
Buying second-hand is a great solution — furniture that was made a long time ago was intended to be passed down, and can usually be made to look brand new with minor repairs, refurbishing, or upcycling. The internet has reinvigorated this secondhand marketplace with Facebook and eBay filled with promising listings.
Besides the secondhand route, there are several furniture brands that are creating new or reclaimed furniture with sustainability and the environment firmly in mind. Here we highlight five of the best around.
5 Of The Best Sustainable Furniture Brands Around
Not so much named after Bond’s nemesis, Goldfinger is in instead a nod to the modernist architect Ernö who designed Trellick Tower, the modernist monolith where its showroom is housed. The London-based furniture maker only uses recycled or sustainably sourced wood, while also operating as a social enterprise with all profits fed back into the business and used to fund its Goldfinger Academy offering education programmes for marginalised young people, and People’s Kitchen, a cafe that offers free meals to local residents.
Its Bond villains aplenty in this list, although there’s no golden guns here, just a bounty of artfully curated reclaimed lifestyle products from Kadai fire bowls and teak storage chests through to vintage art and FSC certified wallpaper. There are no new furniture pieces with Scaramanga sourcing only old and vintage furniture, many of which have been handpicked for a number of Hollywood films, including Dumbo and The Hobbit.
Nkuku is an ethical, fair trade supporting brand that sells furniture made from artisans all over the world, inspired by the founders own globe trotting trips. Of course this brand focus brings up the question of its carbon footprint, one which Nkuku address by using sea freight as opposed to air freight, and consolidating their shipments so they’re only ever using full containers. All of the products also only use natural materials and eco crops, including hemp, jute and mango wood, while all of the glassware is made out of recycled glass.
Based in Northern Ireland with a name derived from Indonesian to bless or admire, Puji is a sustainable brand through its dedication to quality that will last a lifetime. It specialises in using both reclaimed timbers, and in particular teak, one of the most durable woods and able to withstand years of wear and tear, hence why it’s used a lot in boat making. The Indonesian link also goes beyond the name, with a Puji workshop located in Java where there is a steady supply of teak to be reclaimed from the old wooden style buildings that are being replaced around the country.
Adventures in Furniture
Independent London furniture chain Adventures in Furniture is one of the leading spots to buy furniture across London with a number of green awards behind them, including a Guardian Sustainable Business award. One of its standout features is an environmental star rating across most of the products it sells, judging the item it is selling on the raw materials used, the workshop practices, and furniture miles and packaging, along with a detailed breakdown of how each judgement was made. It also offsets the emissions generated from transporting your furniture from where it was made to your door through the World Land Trust for a true 360 approach.