Sustainable Furniture
Courtesy of Lillian August

The Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC) -- launched in High Point, North Carolina -- promotes sustainable practices among furniture manufacturers, retailers and consumers alike. Here, we catch up with SFC Executive Director Susan Inglis, who tells us more about the council and offers tips on finding and buying great green furniture.

What is the Sustainable Furniture Council?
We're a group dedicated to mitigating our industry's impact on the global climate crisis. We would like to eventually have a label that identifies sustainable products for consumers. Right now, we're building our list of members, who must prove they have a commitment to sustainability.

We hear a lot about illegal wood in furniture. What does that mean?
Illegal wood is the biggest problem in our industry. The slash and burn techniques used in illegal forestry, much of it in South America, often lead to major forest fires, which are a significant global carbon generator. There is a shocking amount of illegal wood being used for furniture manufacturing.

Are there other problems, and how is SFC helping?
There is also a lot of waste associated with the manufacturing process. More sustainable manufacturing processes close the loop of the cycle, recycling waste products rather than sending them all to the landfill. Members of the Sustainable Furniture Council must certify that they do not use illegal wood and also show that they are conscientious in all aspects of manufacturing.

What should we look for when buying furniture?
Look for furniture coming from companies that you believe are making a difference. First, you should be concerned about finding furniture produced with legal wood. Look for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood. SFC believes that FSC is the strongest forest management certifier. You can also look for VLO (Verified Legal Origin) labels and for SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certification. And seek out furniture made with reclaimed woods. Reclaimed woods are excellent, and we encourage using them as much as possible. One surefire way to know you're buying from a sustainable source is to use the SFC member list when shopping.

Do we have to sacrifice style to get green furniture?
Definitely not! At High Point, it is so exciting to see such a variety of sustainably manufactured products in any style and at any price point. We have many furniture designers and manufacturers in our membership, and their styles range from sleek contemporary to French country.

Any parting words of wisdom?
The green movement is a consumer-driven movement. It’s exciting to know that consumers have so much power. They should use it.


Kelly Smith

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