Manufacturers make it easier to be green — and stylish

“We are all passengers aboard one ship, the Earth, and we must not allow it to be wrecked. There will be no second Noah’s Ark.” Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-) Russian politician, “Perestroika” (1987)

So, what is sustainable furniture?

My readers have been asking about living green, Energy Star and other initiatives that help us live lighter on the planet. During the next couple of weeks, I plan to explore some of the most popular ones and hope to come to the conclusion that style and design do not have to be sacrificed for the sake of helping to protect the environment.

According to its Web site, www.sustainable furniturecouncil.com, “The Sustainable Furniture Council is a nonprofit industry association founded to promote sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike. The SFC recognizes the overwhelming scientific consensus that our world is experiencing dangerous global climate change. SFC members acknowledge the tremendous urgency, and will take immediate steps to minimize carbon emissions, waste stream pollutants, unrecyclable content and primary materials from unsustainable sources from any product platform under our control.

“SFC members will utilize life cycle assessment as the best method for analyzing the environmental impact of their products, and a verifiable chain of custody as the only acceptable method for tracking wood flow.

“SFC members support the triple bottom line of — people, planet, profits — and will lead the industry in developing awareness of best practices throughout their supply chains. Members will accomplish this goal by increasing their purchases from suppliers that show continual improvement toward meeting our high standards.”

It further states that goals of SFC are to raise awareness of the sustainability issue; assist companies in adopting good practices; serve as an information clearinghouse; and create a symbol of assurance for consumers.

Those are very lofty goals and commendable for sure.

Who belongs to SFC and what do they produce? How do they meet these standards? A list of members is published on the Web, and I checked out a few to see how they stack up. Let’s take a look.

Harden Furniture

SFC awarded Harden the 2008 Silver Exemplary status. Harden is the first furniture manufacturer to achieve this honor.

To qualify, they had to follow the following criteria:

* 15-25 percent of wood products must be SFC-certified or equivalent.

* 1-25 percent of products other than wood must be made from recycled or biobased materials.

* Complete the Carbon Footprint Report, reviewing detailed analysis of energy output in operations.

* Make a positive impact on supply chain improvements as a result of their efforts.

Harden makes a complete line of case goods and upholstered furniture. Visit www.harden.com for more information.

NaturesCast

The company’s products are manufactured using dry leaves, dead twigs and barks gathered from the forests around Compostela in the Philippines province of Cebu. Forest scraps are then shredded through a special machine, bonded together using an odorless water-based binder and shaped into unique and functional forms designed by local artists. Each piece carries the warm tones and textures of the natural ingredients. More than 60 of these unique forms are available to the North American market.

NaturesCast has found a way to not only convert forest scraps into beautiful decorative and functional items, but also to positively transform lives, by inspiring environmental awareness and providing livelihood among poor families in the province.

Visit www.naturescast.com for a look into the company and its products.

O Ecotextiles

After forming O Ecotextiles in 2004, the founders began a worldwide search for manufacturing partners interested in a cradle-to-cradle process of creating no-impact, perfectly safe, incredibly luxurious fabrics.

They began working with people around the world: Romanian farmers who dew- or field-ret hemp stalks; a Japanese mill owner committed to “green” processes, even new methods such as using ozone to bleach fabric; a 100-year-old Italian mill that produces no wastewater; a Chilean mill shifting to entirely green processes; and an Italian dye house that produces biodegradable, heavy-metal-free textiles. The results are fabrics that are sophisticated, stylish and green.

Visit www.oecotextiles.com for more information.

There are literally hundreds of companies providing home furnishings and accessories who lay claim to being sustainable and green. If this is important to you, I would recommend that you use a clearinghouse such as SFC to vet these manufacturers. You will find, as I did, that you sacrifice nothing, and who knows, it might just make a difference.

Carolyn Muse Grant is the founding president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to creativemuse@cox.net.

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