Where did your couch come from? We don't mean the literal location, which was probably just a big warehouse. We mean where did the wood, metal, and fabric that make up that couch come from?
The answer is often disappointing. Lots of furniture brands rely on imported materials of questionable origin to construct their pieces, and they aren't exactly upfront about it, either. But these five companies prove an exception with their sustainable sourcing practices. The next time you need a couch, make sure to call them.
VivaTerra lives up to its name, which translates to “living earth,” through multiple sustainable business practices. Some of its pieces contain recycled glass or salvaged metal. Others feature wood with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, meaning it was harvested from responsibly managed forests. A lot of the products are finished with natural, chemical-free dyes, oils, and waxes. VivaTerra even offsets the carbon emissions generated by shipping through its partnership with TerraPass. Customers can choose climate-friendly shipping by adding an extra dollar to their purchase, which goes towards solar and wind power projects.
The couches from this eco-conscious company are handcrafted and customized to your liking. Ecobalanza has built the ultimate “green” couch by ditching the toxic materials that normally go into a sofa for natural alternatives. Instead of using plywood, which contains formaldehyde, Ecobalanza relies on FSC-certified hardwoods. And rather than plumping the cushions with petroleum-based foam, the company opts for organic latex. (They’ve broken the process down piece by piece in this handy infographic.) The finished projects are definitely not cheap — prices start around $6,800 — but if you’ve got money to spend on a seriously quality couch, Ecobalanza is considered the gold standard.
Vermont Woods Studios
These woodworkers care deeply about our forests. Vermont Woods Studio makes all its beds, bookcases, and dining room tables with locally sourced timber — so local it’s within 500 miles of the workshops. These workshops reduce waste by using wood chips to heat the space and donating sawdust to local farms. But what’s most impressive is all the trees the company has planted to restore forests ravaged by illegal harvesting. The number stands at 56,114 and counting.
Bigger brands have taken steps towards sustainability, too. On the West Elm site, you’ll find a “Sustainably Sourced” section full of FSC-certified bedframes, desks, dressers, and tables. West Elm claims that 29 percent of the wood it currently uses is “sustainably sourced” and about 20 percent of its products are Fair Trade-certified as well. The company is aiming to boost that latter number to 40 percent by 2020.
Crate and Barrel
There’s an “FSC-Certified Furniture” section on Crate and Barrel’s site, too — plus overlapping “Sustainable Furniture” and “Eco-Friendly Furniture” collections. Crate and Barrel is kinda known for experimenting with responsibly sourced wood. In addition to the FSC lumber, it’s incorporated sustainable bamboo into some of its kitchen and bath accessories. (You might remember the “Bamboo Bento” collection from many years back.) No matter which piece you choose, you can feel good about how it’ll arrive. Crate and Barrel carries the FSC label over to its shopping bags and catalogs, and its boxes are made with post-consumer recyclable material.