CAN HIGH QUALITY FURNITURE BE SUSTAINABLE?
So many manufacturers offer furniture that looks beautiful online, but falls apart as soon as you get it home. Others may sell genuinely solid furniture, but without a commitment to sustainably sourced materials and non-toxic chemicals. How can you be sure what you’re getting will meet both your standards for quality and environmental awareness? The answer is in the product description. Like nutrition facts at the supermarket, the fine print will tell you whether your purchase is truly worthwhile or just overhyped junk marketed to appear like something its not. Here’s what to look for.
Frame it right from the start. The true sign of a quality piece of furniture is what it’s made of from the inside out. As the years wear on and styles change, the life of a good couch can be extended with updated upholstery or re-stuffed cushions — but only if you start with a good inner frame to begin with. In the product description, look for hardwood materials and corner-blocked joints for strength. Avoid anything that is held together with mostly glue, screws or metal connectors. Zero-tolerance for wibble-wobbles here.
And don’t discount composite woods. Hardwood plywood, while not a solid wood, can be an excellent option, as its cross-layered grains make it pound-for-pound stronger than steel. It is also more sustainable than solid hardwood, because its manufacture utilizes the lumber more completely. Look for eco-friendly varieties that use formaldehyde-free glue and sustainably harvested wood, such as those used in Whom’s products.
Spring for quality. While coil springs are the most labor-intensive and expensive to install, the jury is out on whether they out-perform sinuous springs, which are faster to install and therefore cheaper. Whatever the type of spring, what really matters is having a hand-tied suspension — like we do at Whom. Avoid mesh or webbing as these will wear out quickly. A heavy-gauge spring is your best bet with support you will notice. Your couch or chair should not have too much give in the seat; it should always be firm, with foam cushions and stuffing providing the pillowy luxury on top.
Fine details. Little things like removable cushion covers may seem like minor details, but they are huge in prolonging the life of your furniture, making it easy to clean and care for. Hypo-allergenic, premium down-alternative cushion fill is also a nice touch for vegans or those with sensitivity to genuine down. Consider Whom’s Tastemaker lounge chair for a classic style with beautiful, tapered steel legs and easy upkeep to ensure its vitality for years to come.
Commitment to sustainability. Look for fabrics that are sustainably sourced, use less water in the dyeing process and that are not treated with harsh chemicals or flame retardants. At Whom, all of our fabrics are chosen based on these principles, and you can order a Swatch Box to see and feel the quality for yourself. But that’s not all we do to help the environment.
For every tree harvested in the making of our products, we plant 40 new ones. Our family-owned factory also recycles a minimum of 60,000 pounds of plastic every week — that’s over 30 million pounds of post-consumer waste we have kept out of landfills.
So can furniture be both high quality and sustainable? The answer is a resounding yes. High quality furniture is furniture that you don’t throw away, thereby making it already more eco-friendly than something cheap. But even within the realm of high-quality furniture, not everything is created equally. The use of renewable materials, easy product care, no harsh chemicals and a commitment to ethical use of resources are all traits that set Whom and the truly planet-friendly apart from the rest.