Did you know most products marked as eco-friendly or sustainable are actually from anything thats environmentally friendly? For instance, take a quick search on Google for sustainable furniture and you’ll find big brands like Crate & Barrel, Room & board, Macys and others show up in the results with whole sections of so called “Sustainable Furniture”. This furniture is usually anything but sustainable or environmentally friendly. If you’re questioning how big brands can marketing something as sustainable if it’s not true, use your own common sense and think for a moment about what the term sustainable means and the regulations behind this marketing phrase. The biggest issue is that there are no regulations on what sustainable furniture actually is. Still don’t believe it? Just look at some of the products that are marked as “sustainable” by some of the big brand stores…
This dresser is in the Sustainable section at “C&B.com”. However, let’s take a look at how its not actually sustainable. First and foremost, its made from particle wood which is designed to disintegrate over time. It uses harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, but it’s exponentially cheaper to manufacture so thats what you get. Next, they coat the particle board with plastic veneer. This veneer typically uses toxic glue to adhere to the particle wood. Its the only way to keep the base wood from falling apart (its kind of like a cheap skin for your furniture). Manufacturers have gotten very good at making vinyl plastic veneer look amazing, but the truth is these types of furniture products always end up weak and frail. It is difficult to get a solid joint between two pieces so the joints are almost always glued in combination with flimsy metal attachments. If the wood or veneer gets damaged, there’s usually no way to repair it. They finish the “sustainable” piece with cheap coated metal accessories. If anything goes wrong with any of these parts of the construction, your best option is to simply replace the furniture. Alas, you have entered the world of disposable furniture.
This is why we believe anything that is made with particle board and veneer is simply just not sustainable. Our landfills are filling up with this stuff at an alarming rate. You might think, well cant we just recycle it all? The unfortunate answer is usually no. Without highly specialized equipment, you cant recycle particle wood that has plastic attached to it and you cant recycle plastic that has wood attached to it. Simply put, most recycling facilities are not equipped to handle such items so into the landfill your furniture goes.
Here is another piece from C&B. Its labeled as sustainable and this time its actually made of solid wood which is a huge improvement over particle wood. Lets take a look at the reviews…
Dining table sold by Crate & Barrel – Not Sustainable
This review is posted on a third party site about a table that wasn’t purchased from LivingEdgeTable.com:
Table top finish- not durable
“I have had this Basque Honey table and chairs for at least 10 years, it is built exceptionally well, however the finish to table top has many water spots and discolorations (white) from steam even when using trivets with towels underneath. I tried to get rid of these spots to no avail. The table legs need to be tightened every year or so as they wabbel. I would not buy this table again. ***However, The chairs that come with it are exceptionally beautiful though and have lasted at least 10 years and probably will last a lifetime. The joinery and finish is exceptional in the chairs. I noticed that the stain in the chairs are more of a golden brown (honey), while the table and bench was a darker walnut brown…?? I wonder if they were not matched properly with the same wood. I dont know if anyone else experienced this color difference.”
This customer bought a “sustainable” table that needs to be replaced because it isn’t durable enough to withstand daily use. Unfortunately, this table will likely end up in a landfill. This doesn’t match our definition of sustainable at all. At LivingEdgeTable.com we believe sustainability begins at the source and continues beyond your lifetime. That is why we only produce products that are designed to outlive you and your children.