Sustainable furniture design: better living in the future
Everything you need to know about sustainable furnishing trends and the most important labels and certificates in the furniture industry.
5 eco trends to embrace
When shopping you often have to decide whether to purchase the products of organic or conventional production? Many big brands already offer products with eco-certification or, for example, rely on recycling for packaging, and increasingly consumers are critical, buy consciously and, if in doubt, prefer to do without than harm the environment. What possibilities are there to counter the impending climate crisis and actively work for an environmentally friendly future? We are confident that these eco-trends have potential:
1. Buy regional
One of the main causes of global warming is the continuously increasing global CO2 emissions. A relatively simple means of reducing this is to focus on shorter transport routes through regional production. When buying furniture, the same applies as to apples, eggs, potatoes, etc.: Products produced closer to you are are generally better for the environment than those imported goods from far off continents.
2. Conserve resources
Consumption always means the consumption of resources. Starting with the energy for production, through the material consumption for the packaging, through to transport to the shelf. Many companies therefore rely on resource conservation in production: Quality furniture is often made from renewable raw materials such as FSC-certified wood, bamboo or recycled plastic. Clever constructions also enable reduced packing dimensions and thus economical packaging.
3. Demand durability
One of the cornerstones of sustainability of sustainability is product that can be used for many years or even decades; however of late a negative trend of products, especially in the electrical sector, which are deliberately made to be finite and break after a few years has established itself. Fortunately, more and more quality manufacturers are now taking a stand against this planned obsolescence and are instead offering high-quality materials, modularity, spare parts and extended warranties. Good products last and appeal for a long time - and like real design classics are made to last
While new raw materials are obtained through recycling, many materials that are no longer required can be converted directly into new products through upcycling. The DIY trend is particularly popular when it comes to furnishing, and always provides exciting impulses in furniture design: old wood is built into new furniture, lacquered records become the basis for watches or a collection of old leather belts becomes a unique carpet.
5. Consume consciously
Even if we wanted to, we can't live entirely without consumption. Sometimes you can't avoid purchasing - and especially when it comes to furnishings, every now and then the longing for change is too strong to resist. Regional production and sustainable use of materials are good parameters for an environmentally friendly purchase decision; however, the most important questions for conscious consumption are and remain: Do I really need the product? And will I enjoy it for a long time?
Less is more: sustainability through minimalism?
What does sustainability mean? The ubiquitous term is primarily associated with the topics of environmental protection, recycling and longevity. In general, however, the phenomenon means a principle of action for the use of resources. Sustainability is lived in our modern society in very different ways: If you think of fair fashion and second-hand clothing, car sharing, organic food, zero-waste cosmetics and the regional production of furniture, practically all areas of life can be designed sustainably . One thing is always in the foreground, namely conserving resources or (re)using materials in an intelligent way.
And so sustainability relies on less instead of more - just like minimalism.....? In contrast to the principle of sustainable production in context of products or resources, minimalism is an individual lifestyle choice and relates to the handling of one's own property. The reduction of one's own household is a conscious renouncement of consumption, which is usually also reflected in the furnishings: Minimalists live simply and free from superfluous things. Furniture, decoration and everyday objects are limited to the essentials. Minimalism is always sustainable insofar as both approaches aim at reduction and renunciation and make a conscious handling of the things that surround us a premise.
The Blaue Engel - Blue Angel - has been awarded in Germany since 1978. The seal certifies particularly environmentally friendly products or services. Furniture with the Blue Angel is characterized by its low-emission production, for example with wood from sustainable forestry. In addition, furniture with the seal is harmless to health, i.e. free from harmful solvents, formaldehyde, plasticizers an similar substances.
Similar to the FSC seal the PEFC is a mandate for sustainable forest management. The Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes is an international forest certification system designed to guarantee ecological, social and economic standards on the basis of a standardised self-assessment by the forest managers. In addition furniture made from PEFC wood also represents a particularly responsible use of raw materials.
In addition to labelling in the food sector, Naturland also certifies wood from ecological forestry. Naturland stands for the strictest criteria in terms of sustainable forestry. In addition to wood products made from Naturland-certified wood, the seal also recognizes responsible supply chains.
The GS seal offers guaranteed, tested product safety. Furniture, toys, lights and various other everyday objects are tested by an independent body. In contrast to the CE marking, this is a voluntary specification by the manufacturer.
The Öko-Control seal of approval was created especially for products made from renewable raw materials, such as wood and cotton. Products such as wooden and upholstered furniture, as well as mattresses and bedding, are checked for harmful substances. It is a voluntary commitment by organic retailers and stands for high standards and products that are as free from harmful substances as possible.
STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®
One of the best-known labels for textiles and textile products is OEKO-TEX. In addition to quality and freedom from harmful substances, the social standards in the production facilities and the environmental aspects in the manufacturing process are also checked. ÖEKO-TEX certification is particularly common in clothing but increasingly also in context of home textiles and upholstery fabrics for upholstered furniture.
Sustainably produced textiles and textile products are awarded the GOTS seal in both the clothing and home textiles sectors. In addition to very strict ecological criteria, the Global Organic Textile Standard also ensures that social responsibility and environmental management requirements are met during production.
As a seal of approval from the German Furniture Association (DGM), the Golden M distinguishes furniture that meets strict criteria in terms of quality, safety and health as well as environmental protection. Above all, durability, stability and manufacturing quality as well as pollutant emissions are tested.
Fair and safe working conditions, among other criteria, are controlled via the Social Accountability Standard SA8000. The seal is awarded to socially responsible companies that conscientiously pursue compliance with human rights in the workplace. Decisive for the examination are, for example, the subjects of child labour, forced labour, occupational safety and the right to freedom of assembly and collective bargaining. The company must strive to continuously improve social standards.
The BSCI seal is primarily used to monitor socially just working conditions in production facilities in emerging and developing countries. Dealers and importers whose products are certified by the Business Social Compliance Initiative are demonstrably committed to compliance with social standards in their supply chains.
It should always be remembered that all certificates and seal involve costs. Small businesses are often unable to finance these fees, which are sometimes incurred annually. However, that does not mean that the product quality is worse. On the contrary, the carpenter around the corner may even work more sustainably. And as a rule, furniture manufacturers who employ short transport routes and small team tend to operate in a socially sustainable manner.
For wooden furniture, the FSC label of the international non-profit organization Forest Stewardship Council is the eco-seal par excellence. Founded to ensure sustainable forest use, the FSC developed standard criteria for maintaining and improving the economic, ecological and social functions of forest operations. FSC furniture comes from environmentally friendly and socially responsible forestry.