When it comes to transforming a space into the beautifully designed room of their dreams, I find that clients are mostly concerned with how the end product will look and function.
Rarely do they consider the ramifications of the materials they bring into their home—and why would they? Most furniture manufacturers and decor companies don’t seem to be concerned with how their raw materials are sourced or created in the first place.
But as we explained in a previous blog post (click here to read the first part of Destination: Green Design), the type of furnishing materials you allow into your space can (and often do) impact the sustainability of your lifestyle, the environment around you, and even the health of those living under your roof.
The COVID pandemic taught us that it’s not enough to eat clean, exercise regularly, and take whichever daily supplement your doctor swears by. And it’s not enough to simply “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” The harmful chemicals involved in manufacturing cheap furniture are very real hazards to your health and the health of the environment. Certain materials can trigger migraines, allergies, and even asthma. The manufacturing process of low-cost furniture always results in unnecessary pollution. Really, the list of grievances goes on and on.
Lucky for us, there are more eco-minded furnishing companies on the rise that are changing the status quo in our industry. In response to overconsumption, “fast” furniture, and toxic manufacturing practices, these companies are making moves to benefit their buyers and turn the tide in the interior design world.
Gone are the days of turning a blind eye to the pollution and destruction left behind for the sake of making a space pretty.
You can design the space of your dreams without the environmental damage or guilt associated with buying from reckless manufacturers.
Shopping from companies like these three trail-blazers make green design achievable and oh so gratifying.
Crypton Fabric is a textile industry godsend and a long-time HCD favorite for a few reasons.
Crypton fabrics are stain, odor, and spill-resistant. We’re talking high-performing, high-quality fabrics that are recognized as the top dog in their category because of their durability.
Their fabrics are soft, beautiful, and easy to disinfect because every inch is treated with an EPA-approved Crypton Disinfectant & Deodorizer. This makes them perfect for high-use, every day living spaces that are especially susceptible to wear and tear.
The company is dedicated to transparency and committed to sustainability. They promise to uphold best environmental practices by producing high-quality textiles with the lowest environmental impact possible.
The textile industry is historically one of the worst offenders of environmental pollution due to the large amounts of run off waste water that result from the manufacturing process. However, throwing Crypton Fabrics in the mix has proven that creating an eco-friendly alternative is possible.
In fact, the role of Crypton Fabric in green design is twofold.
The patented process of creating their fabrics is sustainable, innovative, and enrironmentally-friendly, while the product itself—a high-quality, stain-resistant textile—was made to last. In other words, their manufacturing process is guilt-free and the lifespan of their textiles is longer than most, which slows down furniture acquisition and increases the longevity of your investment.
Another company worth noting is Fireclay Tile, a California-based handmade tile company on a mission to make interior design more sustainable.
With their full impact report on public display and mindful manufacturing at their core, Fireclay Tile goes above and beyond to find new ways of doing things that will benefit the environment—or at least limit their impact on it.
Here are a few things they’re doing differently than the rest:
Recycling: The company takes old porcelain and ceramic toilets, grinds them down, and uses the material to make new tiles
Samples: In place of the standard sample system where a manufacturer will make x amount of samples in every single color, finish, and shape, they created a system that results in much less waste. Rather than creating samples in every iteration imaginable, they opted for a sort of Tetris system that allows the designer to hone in on the color, finish, and shape separately. That way, when a certain color or shape is discontinued, the manufacturer and the designers they work with won’t have to dispose of every sample that makes use of it. Instead, they need only pull that specific tile from the lineup, which eliminates the number of outdated samples gathering dust in a closet or clogging up a landfill. It sounds like such a no-brainer, we can't believe somebody didn’t think of it sooner!
Next up is Polywood, an outdoor furniture manufacturer specializing in sustainable designs that are built to endure.
Each piece is crafted with materials that don’t require heaps of maintenance and are ready instead to weather whatever elements Mother Nature decides to throw at them. Their pieces are fade-resistant and made from breathable, recycled materials including:
Polywood: Made from HDPE (high-density polyethylene), which is a durable plastic commonly used to make laundry detergent containers, bottle caps, milk jugs, and more. This company recycles millions of plastic containers every year to make POLYWOOD lumber that would otherwise end up in landfills or the ocean.
Sling Fabric: Comprised of 100% woven vinyl-coated polyester material, this stuff was made to resist fading, tearing, and even the formation of mildew. It’s fast-drying, crazy durable, and easy as pie to keep clean.
All-Weather Wicker: Made from the same HDPE used to create POLYWOOD lumber, the company’s wicker is extremely durable. It resists staining, salt spray, blizzard conditions, and sun exposure. All you need is soap, water, and a soft-bristle brush to keep it looking good as new.
Ways to Green Your Home on a Budget (Going Deeper)
Other than shopping from companies like the three we just mentioned, there are many ways to green your home so you can have peace of mind knowing it’s a sustainable, safe, and an eco-friendly environment.
We covered a few ways to do this in Part 1 and are thrilled to dig a little deeper into your secondhand furniture options this time around.
Buying secondhand offers you just as many options as those available to you when you shop firsthand. But instead of cookie-cutter pieces that are in one season and out the next, you have the opportunity to source furniture that is one-of-a-kind and reduce unnecessary waste at the exact same time.
Online vintage sellers you may want to pick through include Chairish and 1st Dibs. These are our favorite online marketplaces for extraordinary finds that are a little more seasoned but have much more personality. You can find anything from throw pillows to side tables, statement lighting to credenzas, and every little thing in between. It may cost you more upfront but investing in furniture from these sellers is worth every penny because they’ve stood the test of time, and will allow your space to stand out as unique among the Ikea-constructed rooms of the world.
Another place you can find secondhand furniture online is through Chris Howard’s Antiques & Modern. This Berkeley-based online shop is perfect for those of you that are head over heels for that midcentury modern look and are on the hunt for something a little more authentic. Vintage furniture is anything that is 50 years or older but antique furniture is anything that is 100 years or older, so when you go the antique route, you’re opting for something with more history, more personality, and more love to give.
The last thing on our list to share is that upcycling secondhand furniture is always an option. If you find a stunning chair at a thrift store or flea market that has great bones but has seen better days, you can restore it to its former glory by refinishing or reupholstering it with a sustainable fabric of your choice. It’s one surefire way to make a piece completely custom to your space and your tastes all in one go.
Friendly Reminder: Design is an expression of your personality. When you add vintage, antique, or upcycled furniture to your space, you embrace more of what makes you unique… and you make your lifestyle a little greener while you’re at it.