There are many different ways to have green furniture, from revamping your existing furniture, to buying used furniture, to looking for new, environmentally-friendly furniture.
1. Revamp or repurpose your existing furniture. Just because your existing piece of furniture isn’t working for you today, doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed to work for you in the future. For instance, I had this unattractive “entertainment center” (which was really a heavy bookshelf with a shelf large enough to hold a television). It had an ugly wood finish and was too tall for the aesthetic of my living room. But, right before I got rid of it, I had the idea of staining it and moving it into my dining room. Now, its dark finish has a contemporary look and its size/shape works perfectly for the dining. Take a look at your existing furniture with a creative eye and consider some of the following ideas:
- Paint or stain. You won’t believe how different a piece of furniture can look with a new shade. You can even change the actual style of the furniture. A country coffee table can suddenly be contemporary with a dark stain. A modern dresser can change to shabby chic with a few coats of white paint. Make sure to use low voc paints and stains!
- Change the fixtures. What a difference a few pulls and hinges can make on a piece of furniture. Similarly to painting and staining, changing from old brass drawer handles to chic silver pulls can breathe new life into a piece.
- Reupholster or cover. Fabric is another element than update the look of a piece of furniture or a room. Reupholstering can entail changing the fabric and/or stuffing, so you can update everything from the texture to the size of the cushions. For an even easier green change, check out sofa and chair covers. Do you like the size and comfort of your couch, but the flowered print just won’t do? Cover it with a fabric that fits your style!
2. Buy antique or gently used furniture. Reduce your footprint by taking advantage of pre-loved furniture. Besides being environmentally friendly, your dollar can often stretch a lot further if you buy used. Rather than spending $1500 on a brand new couch, why not find something similar that is two years old for half the price? Ebay, craiglist, and thrift shops all have amazing finds.
3. Ensure your old furniture is put to good use. Whether your buy new or used furniture, you can double your green contribution by selling or giving away your old furniture. The last thing we want is our landfills filled up with usable furniture. And, how great would it be to have some extra cash to finance your new green furniture purchase? One of the most profitable ideas is to sell your furniture on ebay, because the bidding can get you a great price for your items. Another option is to sell locally on craigslist. And, a great way to help your community is to donate your old furniture to a local Goodwill or other charity thrift store.
4. Furniture can be new and recycled at the same time. Find items that combine new and repurposed elements. Many furniture designers are coming up with great ways to reuse metal, wood, and fabric in a modern way.
5. Look for organic fabric. Why is it important to have furniture with organic fabric? Well, before we answer that, what does it mean to say that fabric is organic? Organic cotton, for instance, is grown without the use of chemicals. That is important because cotton crops use up to 25% of the earth’s pesticides. Not only is buying organic good for the environment, it can also reduce allergies and other reactions to your body. Other fabrics can be organic, too, such as wool.
6. Consider wood from sustainable resources. Sustainable can either mean that the plant itself is easily replenished or that it is responsibly harvested. A great choice is bamboo, because it grows really fast. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that bamboo is not an incredibly strong wood, so it is best used for lightweight furniture. Heavier items constructed from bamboo may have a lot of additional resins or fillers. To determine if wood comes from a responsibly forrested area, look for certification. There are a number of certifications and they are typically prominently displayed on furniture packaging or tags. Wood that originates in North America should be fine because of the strict forresting regulations throughout the area.
7. Emit style, not chemicals. Chemicals in furniture can come from everything from paint to stains to glue. When buying furniture, ask about the finishings. Look for furniture that specifically explains how its finishings are low impact on the environment.
As you can see, there are so many ways to find green furniture. Mix and match what works for you!