Sustainability has become quite the buzzword in recent years. And while many fads come and go, this is one that will be sticking with us for the foreseeable future.
Consumers are Setting Sustainability Expectations
Pursuing a more environmentally friendly business model for the goods we produce isn’t just the conscientious thing to do for our planet, it’s now a prerequisite, particularly from Millennials and Gen Xers entering their prime spending years.
According to a 2021 study by the World Wildlife Fund, web searches for sustainable products increased by an astounding 71% in just 5 years. Consumers at mass now expect their favorite brands – from furniture to fashion to food production – to be taking sustainable business actions. Customers make purchasing decisions based on these efforts and are willing to pay a premium for products that are sourced, manufactured, and packaged more sustainably.
So, what are customers looking for from furniture companies? Let’s dive into 4 ways some in the furniture industry are proactively becoming more environmentally friendly.
4 Sustainability Trends in the Furniture Industry
1. Eco-Friendly Sourcing in Furniture Design & Manufacturing
When customers peruse a catalog of fabrics and finishes for their custom pieces, it’s likely they are considering not only the look of the furniture, but its longevity and sustainability. From the woods and metals to the fabrics and hardware, making choices that are better for the environment starts in the design process.
Often, wood can be sourced from mills and lumber yards that are FSC certified. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organization that “promote(s) environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.” In short, they set the gold standard for the ethical use of wood to ensure what is taken from nature is replanted for future generations. As a consumer, you’ll know if the company you’re purchasing from sources their wood sustainably by the FSC seal of approval.
Fabrics can also be chosen specifically for their low impact on the environment. Cotton and linen, for example, are both considered eco-friendly and sustainable. And, upcycled materials can also be used in furniture pieces, like thread made from recycled water bottles.
2. Intentional Disposal of Waste Products
Consumers are also interested in how companies dispose of their waste. On the surface, you may be thinking, “Why would anyone care what we do with our trash?”. However, the initiative to go green started with recycling decades ago, so naturally, the trend today is to creatively repurpose your discarded manufacturing materials.
For example, in the furniture industry:
- Sawdust and wood scraps can be taken to local facilities to be used for heat and power;
- Foam scraps can be ground up and used for carpet padding;
- Cardboard waste can be recycled;
- And fabric scraps can be sent off for use in handbags, accessories, etc.
Becoming a “zero waste factory” is the goal for companies that are sustainably minded, and furniture manufacturers like EJ Victor are well on their way to achieving this objective.
3. Elimination of Short-Use Items and Fast Furniture
Consumers are more inclined to pay a premium for furniture pieces and home goods if their sustainability and quality expectations are met. Buying new pieces year after year from fast furniture stores has lost its luster for many who seek to reduce their carbon footprint and pass down high-quality furniture to children and grandchildren. Many opt to invest in high-quality pieces periodically to grow their heirloom collection gradually. When sustainability is kept in mind from the design stage to manufacturing and delivery, quality is a by-product of these business decisions.
4. Carbon Emission Reduction from Door to Floor
Another way furniture companies can minimize their impact on the environment is by sourcing domestically or even locally when possible. We briefly covered which materials have a lower impact on the environment like FSC certified wood, cotton and linen fabrics, as well as upcycled materials, but the distance materials travel is equally important when it comes to carbon emissions.
For example, a furniture company interested in reducing their carbon footprint can focus on sourcing their lumber from forests located near their manufacturing facility. Doing this reduces the company’s carbon footprint as it relates to international maritime shipping and outsourcing.
Furniture that Exceeds the Modern Consumers’ Expectations
Today’s consumer is fixated on accountability, credibility, and transparency from the brands they buy from. Those who are not proactively making more sustainable decisions will see it affect their bottom-line, while companies who continue to carve a greener path forward will see customer loyalty increase.
Learn about the 3 Biggest Impact Environmental Impact of Non-Sustainable Furniture and and what you can look for to combat it.