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Office Furniture That’s Good for the Environment, Too

These days everyone is jumping on the “going green” bandwagon, and office furniture makers are no exception. They’re creating and marketing pieces made from sustainable materials and using sustainable manufacturing methods.

You’ll find pieces made with everything from crushed walnut shells to old car bumpers built in factories that rely on renewable energy.

We’d like to point out that Arnolds Office Furniture was a huge fan of the environment long before green was the new black (selling used office furniture prevents it from ending up in a landfill and saves natural resources).

There are plenty of things to consider when looking for office furniture that’s good for the environment.

Here’s a rundown of what to look for:

  • Durability: Purchasing furniture that is built to last means that you won’t be tossing it into a landfill in a few years and using up more raw materials to replace it.
  • Locally sourced: When possible, buy furniture that was made locally: the fewer miles a delivery truck has to travel means less fuel and lower emissions. Even better, purchase equipment that was made from locally-sourced materials.
  • Recycled materials: Look for furniture made from recycled materials. This could be anything from a chair made from old detergent bottles to a desk made from reclaimed barn wood.
  • Sustainably harvested: When purchasing anything made from wood, look to see that it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensuring that it was harvested using sustainable methods.
  • Rapidly renewable material: Bamboo, cork, straw and wool are among the types of non-petroleum-based building materials that has a harvest cycle of under 10 years, which means it can easily be replaced.
  • Air quality: Look for VOC (Volatile Organic Compound)-free furniture that is Greenguard certified. Typically found in synthetic material, glue or paint, products with high VOC content have been linked to poor air quality, birth defects and cancer.
  • Where it’s manufactured: The material used to build the furniture isn’t the only component to making it a green produce. Look for furniture built in factories that use green energy and strive to reduce waste and emissions.

You might not find furniture that means all of these criteria, but there are plenty of manufacturers out there striving to improve their environmental footprint.

The Daily Green recently highlighted some pieces that score major points on the green scale and we found a few more to add to their long list.

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Bambora by Ecowork – PIeces in this collection are made from bamboo with no added formaldehyde and coated with a low-VOC urethane.
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deNUO by Ecowork – This workstation was built from recycled Steelcase frames and covered in material made from old soda bottles.
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Knoll Life Chair – The winner of various green awards, this chair is made from 55 to 60 percent recycled material and has been certified for indoor air quality. In addition, Knoll has taken measures to reduce wastewater and emissions, recycle wood scraps, and use FSC-certified wood and fibers.
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Knoll Cube – The company’s water-based adhesives and UV-cured wood coating means its products are almost totally VOC-free. You’ll also find products in its line of workstations that are made with FSC-certified composite wood and that are Greenguard certified.
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HAG by izzydesign – Since 1995 this line has been using everything from salad containers to ketchup bottles for plastic components. Plus, it receives 100 percent of its energy credits from wind power.
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RH Form Furniture – These chairs are 100 percent recyclable (the company will even take old models of its chairs and recycle them for free). In addition, the company has reduced factory waste by 99 percent and is working on a new biodegradable fabric.
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Embody by Herman Miller – Designed for folks who spend long hours seated, this chair is not only ergonomically amazing (it conforms to your every movement improving your circulation and reducing your heart rate), but also features the staples of Herman Miller’s efforts toward sustainability. The chair is made of 42 percent recycled content and 95 percent of it can be recycled at the end of its life. What’s more, the facility where it’s manufactured produces just 77 pounds of waste a month, none of which is hazardous and only uses renewable energy.
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NaturesCast Barque Table – All furniture by this company is made from dried leaves, twigs and barks gathered from the forests of the Philippines and bound together using a water-based adhesive.
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Green Tables by Baltix – The company seeks out locally-based, recycled, rapidly renewable, and VOC-free materials. Its lightweight pieces are also shipping-friendly, which improves gas mileage. Tables in the collection are built from materials including bamboo, crushed walnut shells, soybean and corn byproducts, recycled paper and recycled steel.

Posted by James Wilkie

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