Call or Text Us: 732-844-9976 

Is Your Furniture Killing the Planet? How to Shop for Sustainable Furniture

In the last decade, largely thanks to giant online retailers like Amazon, our patience for shopping has gone way down. We want to put in minimal effort, but see thousands of choices. We want to spend as little money as possible, but get everything as soon as possible. 
To achieve that we’ve stopped paying attention to who makes it, where its from, or even the quality of the materials used to construct it. 
This style of shopping comes with a steep environmental cost, especially when you consider big ticket items like furniture.


Furniture is clogging up landfills

In the U.S. alone, we throw out more than 12 million tons of furniture a year, creating a huge amount of solid waste, which has grown 450% since 1960. This increase is likely the result of  the ‘fast furniture,’ trend; online retailers that offer trendy pieces for a lower price point that can be delivered quickly. This furniture is often made from artificial wood and is cheaply constructed. A few years after buying it, customers simply throw it away because it didn’t hold up or they are just sick of it, replacing it with another cheaply constructed piece. This type of furniture for most isn’t worth trying to repair or resell.

Environmental impact of overseas shipping

But it’s not just budget furniture that comes with an environmental price tag. Many mid-priced or even high-end stores sell furniture that is environmentally problematic, as much of it is made abroad. 
Most retail goods that are brought to the U.S. from abroad come via fossil-fueled maritime ships, which are responsible for a significant amount of climate pollution. According to a study from the Pacific Environmental Group (PEG), maritime shipping accounts for 10–15% of the world’s manmade sulfur oxide and nitrous oxide emissions. These chemicals are linked to increased cases of asthma, cancer, and increased risk of ocean acidity and air smog.  Container imports from America’s 15 largest retail giants generate as much climate pollution as three coal fired power plants, or the energy needed to power 1.5 million American homes. These retail giants produced over 7 times more sulfur oxide emissions than all on-road vehicles in the United States combined, according the PEG. 

The cost of imported wood

Take a closer look next time you are considering a piece of furniture. If it’s made from an imported tropical wood, such as mango, teak, acacia, or rosewood, you may be contributing to deforestation in rainforests worldwide. According to the World Wildlife Fund, increasing global demand for low-cost timber products supports a multi-billion-dollar business of illegal and unsustainable logging in forests worldwide. Consumption of tropical timber by the U.S. and other industrial countries plays a significant role in tropical deforestation.

Shop solid wood, American-made furniture 

What can be done? The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint when making your next big furniture purchase is to buy furniture made locally in the United States and crafted from 100% sustainably harvested American hardwood. From start to finish solid wood, American-made furniture is the environmentally friendly furniture option. It is built sustainability, shipped only a short distance without the use of maritime shipping, can be repaired if damaged, and it lasts decades, which means it doesn’t end up in landfills. Most customers opt to sell or hand down their furniture when they grow tired of it, allowing another family the opportunity to enjoy quality furniture without any additional trees being cut down.
Buying solid wood furniture and American-made furniture does require a bigger investment in time (you can’t overnight handcrafted furniture) and often money. But by shopping sustainably you are investing in our planet, and that is always worthwhile.