19 June 2007

Eco Furniture To Sit On

Although Sergio and I moved into the eco flat early spring, we are still hunting down furniture. A fairly slow process if we want to find objects that are beautiful, comfortable, eco-friendly and affordable as well as locally available. Here a few of our purchases that will reflect the general ideas of how to hunt down eco furniture. Here our tips:

Making sure a chair is eco comes mainly down to its material. Look for FSC-certified wood (which means it’s from a sustainable source) or wood that has been reclaimed from old furniture or other carpentry.

Apart from wood, some designers use other recycled materials like plastics or metal to create furniture.

If you buy a new chair, make sure it can at least be recycled (and disassembled) at the end of its life. If an object is made from lots of different materials that are for example glued together, recycling is often impossible.

There is also some lovely Bamboo furniture; you know that fast-growing beautiful grass that has become quite a trendsetter recently.

And then there’s that furniture which always finds an owner for whom it is in fashion, so buy vintage furniture. That way no new energy or materials are used and you can find true beauties hidden in second hand-shops.

Here in Barcelona, where there are no local eco design stores like in London or New York, the second hand shops have been our best bets so far. Whatever furniture you buy, make sure it’s long lasting and that you can adapt it over the years. This includes that it is easy to fix and that you can for example change the fabric of the cushion to match them with possible new curtains.

Since furniture often ways quite a bit and hence results in heavy transportation emissions, we recommend flat-pack furniture (IKEA being a specialist in those, and offering certified wood) and more importantly local furniture.

We found quite a few nice pieces at TROC, a second hand dealer where prices go down 10% every month if the object is not sold. So be ready for some great bargains (thanks Pep for the tip!). Our sofa, we must admit, is from IKEA because of its sustainably harvested wood, its 100% cotton textile, its multi-funcionality (it’s a sofabed) and especially the price for which you can nowadays get a designer sofa. Especially the latter one was hard to beat. So far we are using some wooden folding chairs, also from IKEA until we fall in love with some proper dining room chairs. Soon to come: a recycled & ethically produced local beanbag and a cradle to cradle office chair.

Check out TreeHugger’s Green Guide for more in depth ‘How to green your furniture’.

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