Sustainability is a growth industry.
Furnishing your home with the planet’s health in mind has become a huge trend in the design world, but knowing what brands to shop can be as tough as hickory (one of the hardest and most sustainable hardwoods, FYI).
We’re all about taking some of the guesswork out of the good work of furnishing your space responsibly. But before we reveal our five favorite sustainable home brands, let’s quickly dig into the qualities of sustainable furniture.
First up: antique and vintage furniture. You can make a case that they’re always a sustainable choice. Why?
Because previously owned furniture is being repurposed, reused and recycled — the three pillars of sustainable interior design. Giving an old piece a new home not only saves landfill space, but also saves trees from the ax. Bonus: Inherited pieces add a priceless element of story to your home.
How to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Determining the eco-friendliness of new furniture is a bit trickier, so let’s break down sustainability into four factors: materials used, manufacturing practices, transportation, and longevity:
Sustainable materials: Eighty percent of an item’s environmental impact is a result of the materials used to make it. Sustainable furniture includes products:
- Made with recycled, reclaimed or repurposed materials
- Made from materials that are easily renewable, such as bamboo and other woods that grow quickly
- Made from local materials (see why under “transportation”)
- Made with textiles and finishes that don’t pollute the environment during their manufacturing or the air you breathe in your home
Manufacturing: Responsible manufacturing means everything from reducing energy and lowering carbon emissions to minimizing pollution and protecting sensitive environments.
Transportation: Transporting raw materials and shipping finished products burns energy and contributes to greenhouse gases. Compared to purchasing something from out of state or overseas, buying from a local artisan is one way to automatically shrink your carbon footprint.
Longevity: Sturdy furniture that is built to last — as well as pieces that are stain-resistant and/or pet-friendly — will have a longer lifespan.
One final note: Sustainable furniture is not only healthier for the planet. It’s also healthier for your home. That’s because eco-friendly furniture is made with minimal amounts of chemicals, the air in your home will be cleaner. (Another way to clean your home’s air: indoor plants.)
For much more information, check out this guide from the Sustainable Furnishings Council.
And now, meet some of our favorite sustainable home brands:
Burrow doesn’t sugarcoat sustainability: “There’s a lot that goes into … building an eco-friendly couch,” says the modular furniture brand.
The result is made-in-the-USA furniture built with sturdy, sustainably sourced hardwood and non-toxic fabrics that are free of formaldehyde, heavy metals, phenols, phthalates, and flame-retardant chemicals.
“What more could you ask for?” says Havenly designer Lauren Cox. “Burrow truly thinks of everything.”
And that includes a laser focus on longevity: Each piece of furniture, like this Burrow armchair, is stain-resistant, pet-friendly, and passes stringent tests for sturdiness before being shipped in recycled cardboard boxes.
A commitment to sustainability? Pottery Barn has the receipts:
- They’ve used more than 10 million plastic water bottles to craft products like their recycled-material rugs.
- They’re on track to responsibly source 100% of their cotton by the end of 2021.
- They’re a top 10 global company in terms of using responsibly sourced wood, with a goal of reaching 50% this year.
And how about this eco-friendly initiative? For every purchase of indoor wood furniture (like this Malibu Woven Bench), Pottery Barn will plant a tree in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. The goal is to plant 3 million trees in three years.
“I love seeing big names toss their hat into the sustainability ring, and for them to treat ‘sustainable’ as more than just a buzzword,” Lauren says. “Imagine how much of a difference could be made with more well-known retailers following suit.”
West Elm’s commitment to sustainable practices is top-notch, Lauren says. The retailer abides by standards set by the Forest Stewardship Council, the Better Cotton Initiative, the GREENGUARD Gold certification and more.
Its sustainably sourced furniture includes items for nurseries and children’s rooms; buffets and media consoles; and dressers and nightstands.
“West Elm spans such a wide breadth of styles and budgets,” Lauren says, “that there’s certainly a sustainably made item for everyone within their catalog.”
With every order, Joybird follows through on their commitment to forest preservation. How?
The midcentury-inspired brand plants more trees than were used in the making of the handcrafted item purchased. At last count, more than 350,000 Joybird-planted trees were taking root in forests that need rejuvenating.
“If that doesn’t bring a glimmer of hope to the future of our planet,” Lauren says, “I don’t know what will!”
Lulu & Georgia
Lulu & Georgia designs and curates furniture and furnishings for the style-obsessed.
The hip, Los Angeles-based brand has an extensive collection of vintage rugs, too. Their buyers have hit the flea market so you don’t have to.
“What’s more sustainable than bringing new life to vintage pieces?,” Lauren says. “While these pieces might not align with everyone’s style, if you have a keen eye and are willing to wait for the right piece, Lulu & Georgia are a great fit to double-down on sustainability and style.”
For more great curated-for-you vintage collections, browse:
- Chairish: Shop Chairish’s vintage and used furniture by price — from salvaged mid-century desk chairs for $40 to a museum-quality, Art Deco dining set for $50,000.
- Etsy: Check out the crafty site’s reclaimed furniture for rustic bookshelves, desks and dining tables made of reclaimed wood or an industrial console crafted with wood from a century-old barn.
- One Kings Lane: This expansive design site’s vintage category includes thousands of items, from art to accent tables, from throw pillows to tabletop decor. Every item purchased is one less item headed for the landfill. And one more small step toward sustainability.
Sustainable interior design is easily attainable when you work with a Havenly designer. Start the process with our fun style quiz.