There are a variety of factors that influence the design and production of eco-friendly furniture and homewares, and just because a product is advertised as sustainable, it doesn’t necessarily mean definitely it is. This is why we’ve put together the key information to help you make ethical choices when it comes to your interior decor.
The less raw materials a product uses, the better — this is also known as lower ‘material intensity’. Think furniture made from reclaimed wood with bespoke joinery (no nails or screws) and 100% bamboo cushion covers and bedding.
However, even if you buy a product you thought was low in material intensity, this might not be the case. Needless packagings such as bubble wrap, cardboard, plastic ties and sticky tape can increase the number of raw materials used. Try to find brands like Australian company Biome who offset the environmental impact of shipping parcels by supporting Greening Australia’s ReefAid program and offer in-store recycling.
Low carbon footprint
The term ‘carbon footprint’ covers the beginning of the product’s creation to the very end where the buyer receives it. Getting things shipped from overseas involves high carbon emissions so look to buy your new couch set from a local Australian brand.
Ask questions like: Has the company used renewable energy sources in the production of its catalogue? Is the ultimate product durable and easily recyclable? Does the product have third-party certification?
For every tonne of waste thrown away, there are an estimated extra 20 tonnes of waste created at the point that raw material is extracted. So, head to the op shop and visit weekend garage sales and buy used furniture wherever possible — or join online communities like the Good Karma Networks which exists for different suburbs. Here, users will post about products they’re looking to either get rid of or exchange.
Durability and quality
It can be tempting to buy something at a lower price, especially if you feel like it’s something you need right away, and yet… the rug you got on sale for $40 has already begun to fray after 3 months, and it has started pilling. Then you’ll want to purchase a new one, and the cycle goes on.
Try to save up and invest in high-quality and durable products which have been made to last. Generally speaking, you can count on local small businesses/artisanal traders such as Mark Tuckey and Manapan to produce the kind of quality we are talking about.