August 15, 2023 11 min read
Buying your first home is a joyful experience, made more so if you want to furnish it with eco-friendly, stylish pieces and sustainable furniture materials to minimise environmental impact. However, knowing how to start building a sustainable furniture collection can be challenging for first-time home buyers.
So we have devised this guide to help you furnish your apartment, house, or other type of property. We have included insights on why you should invest in environmentally friendly pieces and the materials you should choose when purchasing reclaimed and sustainable furniture.
Using sustainable furniture has become a growing trend amongst interior designers and homeowners alike.
But what does the term sustainable mean when referring to furniture?
Sustainable furniture is functional products made from materials with minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycle. A genuinely sustainable item should be:
Responsibly sourced products come from companies that comply with environmental and human rights regulations by considering ecological, ethical, and social aspects across their supply chain. Simply put, responsibly sourced products limit the negative impact on people and the environment.
Sustainable products should be durable, meaning they are not for single use but should last a long time. The durability aspect of sustainable products is essential because the longer the life of an item, the fewer resources are required, which also reduces waste.
When items can be recycled or reused, this reduces the need for landfill or other costly and environmentally damaging forms of disposal. Additionally, recycling and reusing conserve natural resources and energy since they eliminate the labour that comes with new products.
According to recent studies, an overwhelming 65% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable products, underscoring a remarkable surge in the demand for eco-friendly options.
But why do you need to live sustainably, furnishing your home with green items to reduce your tread on our planet?
People in the UK throw away 22 million pieces of furniture per year. Furthermore, a third of people throw away furniture and electronic items that could have been reused. The throwaway culture dramatically impacts our environment, most of which is sadly unnecessary.
Unfortunately, since many people demand products at low prices, fast furniture has become popular. Fast furniture is mass-produced and inexpensive items, making it too easy for people to discard and replace.
The more we contribute to rubbish that goes into landfill, the more we increase air pollution and contaminate water and soil, which is detrimental to our climate.
Burning fossil fuels, a process used to manufacture goods and generate power, increases greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions blanket the Earth and trap the sun’s heat, which disrupts the balance of nature, posing a threat to all forms of life.
Sustainable furniture is pivotal in mitigating carbon emissions and safeguarding our precious natural resources. By purchasing sustainable furniture instead of fast furniture, you can significantly contribute towards creating a healthier planet for generations to come.
Beyond its environmental impact, choosing sustainable furniture enables you to fashion a home that resonates with your core values, which will help inspire your visitors to do the same.
Furthermore, conscientiously crafted pieces boast exceptional artistry and employ high-quality materials, guaranteeing longevity and excellent investment value.
Below are some examples of sustainable materials that you should opt for when choosing furniture for your home.
Select pieces crafted from certified sustainable wood, such as FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) or reclaimed wood. By doing so, you actively minimise deforestation and support responsible forestry practices.
Deforestation refers to the clearing, removal, or destruction of forests, primarily caused by human activities such as logging, agriculture, urbanisation, and the expansion of infrastructure. Deforestation has significant impacts on the environment, such as:
Deforestation disrupts the habitats of various plants and animal species, leading to biodiversity loss. Many species may become endangered or extinct as a result.
Trees play a crucial role in regulating the Earth's climate. During photosynthesis, they absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and store carbon in their biomass. Deforestation releases this stored carbon into the atmosphere, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
Forests provide a natural barrier against soil erosion. When trees are cut down, the protective canopy is lost, making the soil more vulnerable to erosion by wind and water. This leads to reduced soil fertility, nutrient depletion, and increased sedimentation in rivers and streams.
Trees play a vital role in regulating the water cycle. They absorb water from the soil and release it into the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration. Deforestation disrupts this cycle, causing altered rainfall patterns, decreased water availability, and increased risks of droughts and floods.
As mentioned, deforestation destroys the natural habitats of numerous species, pushing them towards extinction. It disrupts complex ecological relationships and can lead to the collapse of entire ecosystems.
When you purchase furniture made from reclaimed and sustainably certified wood, you actively reduce your contribution to these adverse effects on our planet.
A rapidly renewable material because it is astoundingly fast-growing, bamboo is durable and versatile, suitable for furniture, flooring, and other products around the home, whether functional, decorative, or both!
For example, a bamboo serving board is practical yet aesthetically pleasing at the same time.
Bamboo, a type of grass, is typically grown in China. Most farmers use few or no pesticides; however, some do use pesticides and other chemicals, so bear this in mind when shopping for bamboo furniture. Ensure that you do your research on how the bamboo is grown and also the glue that is used to piece the item together.
In many sustainable households, bamboo has replaced other types of less eco-friendly materials, not only because it is easily renewable but also because it is sturdy and flexible.
You will instantly see the benefits once you incorporate bamboo into your home. It is easy to maintain, a bonus for a growing family, and it never fails to bring authentic charm to any room.
As a side note, bamboo is believed to be very lucky!
When selecting upholstery, bedding, and linens, prioritise those made from organic cotton.
By choosing organic cotton products, you contribute to avoiding the use of harmful pesticides and support sustainable farming practices.
Below are just a few of the reasons why organic cotton is an eco-friendly choice:
Organic farmers don’t use fossil-fuel-based fertilisers; instead, they opt for natural methods, such as using bio-pesticides and compost, to grow cotton.
Farmers who grow organic cotton tend to grow other organic products, which helps to keep the soil healthy and support wildlife. For many farmers, their crops are their only source of income.
Synthetic pesticides, used in non-organic farming, cause lasting damage to ecosystems. They harm beneficial insects, such as pollinators and predators, which may eventually lead to other pests emerging. Additionally, synthetic pesticides contaminate the water and soil, harming animals and humans. Pesticides are also linked to certain illnesses, such as cancer.
Because organic farmers don’t use synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, they create healthy soils. This keeps the water in rivers and lakes cleaner, which is better for the environment. Furthermore, healthy soils keep drinking water cleaner, which is better for us!
The decision to use organic cotton promotes healthier ecosystems, protects the health of farmers and workers, and reduces the environmental impact of conventional cotton production.
Additionally, there is something about organic cotton products that appeals to many. Organic cotton bedding and linens add depth and natural texture to an area, making it feel more homely while also keeping it stylish.
Choosing carpets, rugs, and upholstery is a big part of designing any home.
Opt for wool's natural and renewable qualities to ensure you remain sustainable.
Not only is wool practical because it possesses exceptional insulation properties, helping to keep your space warm during colder months, but its inherent durability ensures long-lasting performance. It will remain in good and usable condition even in high-traffic areas of your home, meaning you won’t need to throw it away just after several uses, which will help to reduce your contribution to landfill waste.
Furthermore, wool is a sustainable choice, as it is biodegradable and can be sourced from responsibly managed sheep farms.
Like cotton, wool charms many people, emphasising the comfort natural materials bring.
Elevate your home decor by furnishing it with pieces made from recycled glass.
Firstly, recycled glass furniture and accessories will add a distinctive and artistic touch to your living space, bringing a unique blend of colours, textures, and patterns.
But, more importantly, recycled glass eliminates your need for raw materials, i.e. plastic, which is made from raw substances.
Harmful processes are involved with extracting raw materials, such as oil and grain, which can cause air and water pollution. So you should avoid purchasing products made from raw materials to help reduce your carbon footprint.
By incorporating pieces made from recycled glass pieces into your home, you'll increase the elegance of your space while still living sustainably. No matter the theme of a room, whether nautical, rustic, contemporary, industrial and so on, glass products will fit in and shine!
Sometimes, plastic is unavoidable; you may require certain plastic products within your home.
Thankfully, there are many items of furniture crafted from recycled plastic, which you should choose if you want to furnish your home as sustainably as possible.
Opting for recycled plastic products will reduce waste and support the principles of a circular economy.
By choosing recycled plastic furniture, you actively contribute to diverting rubbish from landfills and oceans, minimising its environmental impact.
As mentioned, the idea of creating an eco-friendly first home can be daunting, but don’t let this put you off.
Once you understand more about environmentally friendly materials and begin building your collection of sustainable home furnishings, you’ll realise how simple it is to maintain and support your eco-friendly household.
You’ll also learn how incredibly rewarding it is to live sustainably.
Here are some tips to help you get started.
We have mentioned the term ‘reclaimed’ several times in this guide, but what does it mean when referring to furniture?
Reclaimed refers to an object reused in its same form either for what it was intended for or for a new purpose. For example, timber from old buildings, such as warehouses and barns, is often repurposed into tables, chairs, and shelves.
After being salvaged and skilfully repurposed, reclaimed timber amplifies the character of a beautiful piece of furniture, lending it an air of mystery due to the history of its previous life that is hinted at in the grains and knots of the wood.
Hemming & Wills offers a range of reclaimed furniture that blends sustainability and style. Below are just a few reclaimed pieces that we offer:
Our Reclaimed Triangle-Framed Dining Table combines rustic wood with an industrial-style steel frame, creating a statement piece that is charming and durable. This table would be a showstopper for your dining room, kitchen, or conservatory.
Consider acquiring these Upholstered Reclaimed Wooden Dining Chairs to complement your rustic table. Each piece will be unique, with different marks, grains, knots, and holes, adding to its character.
Looking for sustainable and eye-catching storage solutions? Then consider our Reclaimed Wooden Display Cabinet. The piece consists of four shelves, a large drawer, and glass doors, enabling you to proudly display your glasses, tableware, books, and other precious items.
Considering other ways how to be sustainable at home?
Then don’t forget to think about your lighting when creating your environmentally friendly haven.
Purchase a sustainable light, such as those that are suitable for LED bulbs.
LED bulbs are effective at creating ambient lighting in a living room or warm and cosy bedroom lighting. But there are also many benefits of LED bulbs.
For example, they turn most of their energy into light as opposed to heat, making them extremely energy efficient.
Secondly, LED lights have an impressive lifespan, typically 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
Since LED bulbs consume less energy, you’ll experience reduced electricity bills, and because your bulbs last longer, there’ll be no need to replace them as often, saving you money all around.
When choosing throws and blankets for your new home, opt for ones made from natural fibre materials with biodegradable and compostable properties.
As we’ve discussed, organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers. This means that organic cotton does not contribute to air and water pollutants.
Blankets made from organic cotton are also high-quality, extremely durable, and decadently soft, making them a great choice for a family home.
As mentioned, wool is very durable, but it also provides the warmth and comfort that only natural fibres can give.
Our Wool Herringbone Throw is a must-have for anyone wanting to create a cosy, charming home while minimising their environmental footprint.
By choosing blankets and throws made from natural fibres, you’ll ensure that your household is kept sustainably warm while adding a touch of decadence and classic style to your living space.
Maintain clean air within your home by selecting low-VOC furniture pieces.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are noxious chemicals that some products are exposed to during manufacturing. These chemicals can be harmful to human health and the environment.
For example, VOCs can cause people to have allergic reactions or, if overexposed to a surface that has absorbed harmful chemicals, this may lead to them experiencing severe health conditions.
Furniture that contains VOCs releases them via off-gassing, a process that increases in enclosed spaces.
Off-gassing tends to happen more in a space comprising mainly new furniture and products. The process can also increase in warmer weather.
Most newer homes are built to be airtight to help improve energy efficiency; however, buildings that aren't adequately ventilated can create conditions that encourage the release of VOCs, which is detrimental to health.
So, when furnishing your new home, acquire the following low VOC options:
Consider the areas of your home you intend to spend the most time in.
For example, for your eco-friendly bedroom, choose sustainable bedroom furniture that reduces your impact on the environment and helps support your health.
You should now understand more about how to be sustainable at home and the environmentally friendly furniture you should acquire to reduce your carbon footprint.
The next step is to start building your eco-friendly furniture collection!
Hemming & Wills is not only committed to sustainability but also dedicated to providing a diverse selection of environmentally friendly furniture options.
By prioritising sustainable materials and responsible manufacturing practices, we aim to positively impact the environment while offering stylish and high-quality furniture for every room in your home.
Hemming & Wills offers a remarkable collection of sustainable living room furniture that combines elegance with eco-consciousness. Our armchairs and coffee tables are crafted using natural, long-lasting, regenerative materials.
These pieces not only provide comfort and style but also contribute to reducing the carbon footprint associated with furniture production.
When it comes to creating an eco-friendly bedroom sanctuary, Hemming & Wills has you covered.
Our bedroom furniture collection features a range of sustainable options, including ethically sourced solid wood bed frames, reclaimed wood dressers, and nightstands made from recycled materials.
By choosing these eco-friendly pieces, you can rest easy knowing that your bedroom furniture supports sustainable practices and minimises environmental impact.
Hemming & Wills believes in the importance of ethical sourcing, especially when it comes to the heart of your home – the dining room. Our dining room furniture collection showcases a variety of tables, chairs, and sideboards sourced from responsibly managed forests or crafted from reclaimed wood.
For those embarking on the journey of furnishing their first home, Hemming & Wills provides a range of stylish and sustainable options.
Our collection encompasses furniture designed with young homeowners' needs in mind, incorporating contemporary aesthetics and eco-friendly materials.
From versatile storage solutions to multifunctional furniture, we ensure that sustainability remains at the forefront of our products, allowing you to furnish your first home in a responsible and fashionable manner.
By purchasing sustainable furniture, you can transform your first home into an eco-friendly haven. The benefits extend beyond personal enjoyment: you'll also positively impact the environment and the well-being of future generations.
Start your home journey with sustainability in mind and make a lasting difference.
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