Table of Contents
- The Global Furniture Industry Today & Beyond
- The Rising Interest in Sustainable Quality Furniture in Singapore
- Sustainability in Sourcing
- Sustainability in Manufacturing
- Sustainability in Logistics
- Sustainability in Consumption
- The Problem? Fast Furniture
- Why Should You Support Sustainable Furniture Brands in Singapore?
- What are Sustainable Furniture Brands in Singapore Doing?
- What Makes Soul & Tables Furniture Sustainable?
- Sustainability-Standard Certifications: FSC & PEFC
- How to Create a More Eco-Friendly Home
- Function, Style & Consciousness In Sustainable Furniture
- The Soul & Tables Commitment
Furniture & Sustainability: How to Create an Eco-Friendly Home
With more people embracing the concept of green living, sustainability is a term that has changed the way we live, eat, spend, travel, and do just about anything.
In the face of climate change, we have developed concerns about the environment and become aware of the consequences of our shopping habits. A good product is no longer enough to win our favour, it has to align with our social and environmental values too.
But, how does this translate in the furniture industry?
The younger generations are starting conversations that create a demand for businesses to create sustainable products and build things using eco-friendly processes and materials.
According to the 2015 Nielsen study, three out of four millennials have sustainability on top of their priority when they shop—up from 50% back in 2014. Generation Z is also willing to pay more for products and services from businesses that commit to positive social and environmental impact.
In response to this global demand, forward-thinking leaders from the home furnishing sector are offering quality furniture made from sustainable materials—products that are made responsibly, safer for the environment, and meant to reduce waste.
Let’s take a look into the global demand for sustainable furniture.
The Global Furniture Industry Today & Beyond
The global eco-friendly furniture market was valued at USD 35.2 billion in 2019. It is estimated to continue to grow, with the eco-conscious younger consumers at the forefront of the sustainable furnishing market.
The Rising Interest in Sustainable Quality Furniture in Singapore
The upsurge in demand for sustainable furniture and consumer interest in green products have also influenced furniture brands in Singapore to ride the green tide.
Some well-known furniture brands are aggressively introducing product lines that promote sustainability: wood furniture made with reclaimed materials, even products that use FSC-certified hardwoods such as teak and oak wood furniture, among others.
Soul & Tables takes pride in being a leading online furniture brand in Singapore that specialises in sustainably-sourced oak and teak wood furniture. Therefore, it seems only fitting for us to discuss what makes sustainable furniture and how your furniture choices can help you create a sustainable environment.
Part I: What Makes Furniture Sustainable
Today, the word sustainable is used to loosely describe products that are eco-friendly, environmentally safe, eco-conscious and the likes. But, aside from these characteristics, there’s more to what makes furniture sustainable.
As such, we also have to look into things like how the materials are sourced, the way products are manufactured—their quality and even how they are transported to the consumers.
Let’s explore all these in more detail.
Sustainability in Sourcing
Sustainable furniture is made from any materials that are recycled, repurposed, or easily renewable.
These include metals, which while not a renewable resource, can be completely recycled. In fact, 98% of metals in the world are recycled therefore, when you shop from Fermob—one of our partner brands—you are guaranteed that your furniture is not only recyclable, but actually recycled.
On the other hand, hardwood can also be sustainable if it is harvested legally and in ways that protect the forests, waterways, wildlife, and the environment in its entirety.
There are organisations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that certify wood as sustainably harvested. The certification serves as a guarantee that the wood is from forest areas that are well-managed and protected. It also makes it easier for consumers to find sustainable furniture from online furniture stores. We will discuss wood certifications further down the article.
Sustainability in Manufacturing
Have you ever wondered what the familiar new furniture smell is? It is actually the result of manufacturers using toxic compounds, such as solvent-based lacquers, to treat or finish a product. Unfortunately, these substances create pollution by off-gassing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde.
As part of our commitment to sustainability, Soul & Tables use water-based lacquers as an eco-friendly alternative to finish our teak furniture collections.
Our partner brands also play their part in ensuring sustainability in manufacturing. At Ethnicraft, for instance, they have an innovative waste management policy where they try to recycle and reintroduce their waste into the production process: wood dust is used to fuel the ovens and small wooden scraps are used for bottoms or the back of a sideboard. They even find use for old carton boxes by shredding them and using them as packaging materials.
Sustainability in Logistics
The nature of today’s global economy is such that the supply and production chain is scattered across the globe. Teak wood may be sourced from the forests of Asia, manufactured in the US, and shipped again for final sale.
The more stages involved, the more energy is consumed, thus the less sustainable furniture products can be. While the importing of materials cannot be avoided, home furniture stores in Singapore can still reduce their carbon footprint by manufacturing and selling their products locally.
It is what we do at Soul & Tables. While we source our teak wood and oakwood from Asia and Europe, we make sure that they are processed and handcrafted by our very own craftsmen. We are also constantly in the lookout for new ways to reduce our footprint by maximising energy efficiency and reducing waste.
Sustainability in Consumption
Lastly, for the furniture to be sustainable, they also have to be well-made. They should offer maximum functionality, durability, and use to prevent the need to replace them every few years or so.
Sustainable furniture should last for a longer time. This is what would keep them from ending up in the landfills even before the forests could replenish themselves for another furniture construction.
In conclusion, each sustainable furniture brand has a unique, sustainable, and ethical approach to how they manufacture their products. But, while we have a different story to tell, we share a common philosophy and that is to provide sustainable furniture that is designed in a manner that uses less or renewable materials, consumes less energy, are built to last, and can be easily recycled.
Sure, you can find oak wood furniture made from the most responsibly-sourced materials out there, but if it winds up in a landfill, broken earlier than you expected it to, then it’s not sustainable.
Part II: Do Furniture Providers Ever Care About Sustainability?
Today, more and more people are making responsible choices about the products they furnish their home with. It is why we are seeing rapid growth in the number of businesses that claim to offer sustainable home furniture in Singapore.
However, while it’s the case, shopping for sustainable furniture is easier said than done for the majority.
In 2015, Singapore generated more than 7 million tonnes of waste—enough to fill 3,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. You can safely guess that much of this waste includes furniture and furnishing items such as tables, chairs, and mattresses, and many of which are still in great condition, if not brand new.
The Problem? Fast Furniture
In an ideal world, homeowners, business owners, and the building industry would buy sustainably manufactured furniture products. Sadly, today, many still patronise furniture that is low-quality, mass-produced, and designed to be disposable.
Much like fast fashion, the problem with fast furniture is tied with ethical issues. Take the flatpack furniture as an example. Often made with particleboard, this ready-to-assemble furniture is not exactly built to last and worse, it’s easily dispensable. When there’s a low upfront investment, we are less attached to the items as compared to heirloom solid wood furniture.
But, the bigger problem is, these environmental offenders actually appeal to perpetual renters with low disposable income or anyone who moves frequently. When it’s time to relocate, it’s much more convenient to toss these items away than pay to move them to a new home.
Sure, the fast furniture industry may be pacifying the demand for budget-friendly living room, kitchen, even bedroom furniture in Singapore. But, know that the environment has paid and is paying dearly for it.
Why Should You Support Sustainable Furniture Brands in Singapore?
The manufacturing of furniture has drained the environment of natural resources and dumped it with greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process, not to mention the landfill debris it results in once the products are discarded.
What are Sustainable Furniture Brands in Singapore Doing?
Home furniture brands in Singapore that promote sustainability should know that being the third largest user of wood resources, next to construction and paper production, they have some level of responsibility to save the forests.
As an online home furniture brand, Soul & Tables offers innovative, authentic, contemporary, and above all, eco-friendly products that will stand the test of time. We are all about ethical sourcing, traditional artistry, and handcrafted pieces that support communities, protect the environment, and reduce what goes in the landfills.
Choosing sustainable furniture—particularly solid wood furniture—can offer a wealth of benefits from the protection of the environment to the lifetime usability of your investment. All these far outweigh the short-term benefits disposable furniture can offer.
However, as you move towards patronising eco-friendly furniture, how will you know if you’re buying the real deal? As earlier said, there are certifications that indicate the sustainability of home furniture sold online and in-stores.
Sustainability-Standard Certifications: FSC & PEFC
The FSC Certification is the undisputed gold-standard for certifying sustainable wood materials. Any wooden furniture labelled as FSC-certified means the lumber is harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, eco-conscious, and economically viable to ensure that they continue to grow and produce wood.
Our teak furniture collection at Soul & Tables is made from 100% FSC-certified wood, which guarantees that our products are sourced from forests that are sustainably managed. The same goes for our partner, Ethnicraft, which sources both their plantation and recycled teak wood from Indonesia. The wood is FSC-certified, meaning it comes from sustainably managed forests.
The PEFC is another third-party certification based on a benchmark laid out by the mutually-agreed international requirements for sustainable forest management (SFM). Any wood products that are endorsed as PEFC-certified can be traded internationally.
Even with these certifications in place, keep in mind that there remains a lot of grey areas in terms of sustainability. For instance, while they may indicate superior sustainability-standard in terms of materials, they don’t necessarily mean that these furniture products are sustainably produced overall.
Therefore, the most effective way to get around it is by doing your research and identifying quality home furniture brands that are transparent with their policies and commitment to sustainability.
Part III: How to Make Sustainable Choices for Furniture in Singapore
Furniture brands that offer sustainable products are merely a piece of the puzzle; the other is smarter consumers that support brands in the move towards helping the environment and slowing climate change.
But, will these ever be enough?
As a conclusion, here are some of the steps you can take to create a more eco-friendly, sustainable home.
How to Create a More Eco-Friendly Home
Shop From Brands that Commit to Sustainability
The goal of modern furniture stores in Singapore that offer eco-friendly options is to design furniture that has less carbon footprint, is built to last, and can be disassembled and reused again, if not to be used throughout a lifetime or two. Make sure to find such brands and look beyond their eco-friendly claims and do your research.
These should help you make smart decisions with regards to your furniture purchases.
Increase Function, Not Carbon Footprint
Modern furniture is only as sustainable as its setting. These days, sustainable furniture can also mean multifunctional furniture that increases functionality without increasing the carbon footprint.
Aside from being manufactured using sustainable materials and methods, you should also look into investing in conventional furniture items that are as functional as they are built to last. Consuming fewer resources, multifunctional furniture can help you live a more sustainable life.
Don’t Forget the Finishing
We mentioned earlier that the use of toxic furniture stains can make furniture less sustainable. Therefore, make sure to look for furniture with water-based finishes.
There is a so-called Greenguard certification that can guarantee that a product doesn’t off-gas VOCs, causing health problems and aggravating a range of respiratory conditions. This is particularly true for your bedroom furniture as your bedroom is where you will spend about a third of your life.
Choose Natural Materials
The upholstery of your furniture also matters in sustainable furniture. As much as possible, invest in products that use natural fibres because often, these fabrics require fewer chemicals during production than synthetic fabrics.
As such, you will also want to avoid polyurethane foam and opt for latex foam instead. The latter is inherently less toxic than the other as they are often wrapped in wool—a natural flame retardant.
Reduce, Reuse & Recycle Where You Can
Where will your furniture end up after its functional lifespan? Will it become another trash in the landfill?
When investing in furniture, make sure to take into account its recyclability. It should consist of parts or pieces that come from renewable, reclaimed, or recycled materials and which can be disassembled and reused at the end of its lifespan. You can reuse these pieces yourself and upcycle them to give them new life.
Function, Style & Consciousness In Sustainable Furniture
Sustainability doesn’t have to forego style for functionality or eco-friendliness.
Those who would pass up at the idea of sustainably made furniture, thinking it wouldn’t appeal to their sense of style, would be surprised that more and more local furniture shops in Singapore are creating furniture that balances style, durability, and eco-consciousness.
The oak wood and teak wood that we use at Soul & Tables are prized for their natural beauty as well as durability and workability hence, we use them for creating furniture items that are exceptionally elegant, eye-catching, and long-lasting. They are engineered to become highly resistant to warping, cracking, even to termite attacks.
Oakwood, in particular, has natural knots and specific grains and texture, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking for solid wood furniture that maintains its natural beauty.
The Soul & Tables Commitment
More than sustainability, we also commit ourselves to provide a great experience for you.
Our furniture is made with the highest quality, eco-friendly materials. But, should there be any defects in your purchase, we offer you lifetime warranty to repair and replace the item FREE OF CHARGE.
Free Delivery & Installation
Our delivery team will have your furniture items delivered to your doorstep and even throw-in free assembly services if required.
Complimentary Maintenance Services
We offer complimentary staining, varnishing, and servicing of discoloured or defective items, whether it’s on the day of your purchase or years down the road.
One-For-One Furniture Disposal
Disposing of an old living room furniture to make room for your Soul & Tables purchase? Give us a call prior to delivery and we will make the necessary arrangements for you.
One-Month Return Policy
In the event that your purchase with us doesn’t fit with your home interior or didn’t come out as you expected, we would be glad to take it back without any charge, up to 1 month after delivery.
If you want to learn more about our sustainability efforts. Visit our website today.