Round table: sustainable furniture
Where does your chair come from? Where do the wood, metal and padding come from? And does its manufacturer have a fabrication approach that promotes sustainable development? Consumers have a growing interest in purchasing eco-friendly furniture. In parallel, environmentally friendly practices and technological advances are becoming more common on the manufacturers’ side. Also, people buying furniture are more and more interested in sustainability and versatility, attaching more value to multifunctionality. These trends lead us to consume smarter and better.
We are becoming more aware
Let’s rejoice. Most Quebec manufacturers have been addressing our concerns, which consist of purchasing locally manufactured and environmentally friendly sustainable furniture. And our excitement grows because many of these manufacturers, in addition to meeting these concerns, meet aesthetic criteria with a stylish and trendy furniture offering. Studies even show that 90% of consumers are interested in the purchase of eco-friendly furniture if this furniture matches their tastes as well as their budget. (SFC – Green Home Furnishing Consumer Study, 2017) Talk about great news!
According to the 9th edition of the Baromètre de la consommation responsable au Québec (2018) published by the Observatoire de la consommation responsable (OCR), more than half of consumers (57.6%) feel they practice responsible consumerism. But how does it apply to furniture? Purchasing responsibly means that consumers must consider the environmental, social, and economic impacts in their purchasing decision.
A helping hand
Since 2018, “Québec Furniture” signage is affixed to manufacturers’ furniture products at many retailers to indicate that they are locally produced. The ecological footprint of imported furniture being higher, this signage helps in identifying provenance. In addition, the Sustainable Industries Council, in collaboration with Éco Entreprises Québec and Recyc-Québec, through its EcoResponsible™ Program, also offers manufacturers the opportunity to obtain certifications for eco-friendly products or packaging. For the consumer who wants to make responsible choices, these logos are a great starting point.
Furthermore, a number of additional initiatives can help identify products that are more environmentally conscious, such as the Recyc Eco certification (a Recyc-Québec initiative), which authenticates products with recycled content, as well as certifications such as ÉcoLogo (acknowledging compliance with Canadian environmental standards), FSC (based on sustainable forest management criteria) and Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified (certifying that emissions from products are below established limits) .
Information is the key
How can one ensure that the furniture they are considering is truly eco-responsible? The answer is simple: ask about it and find out. Sure, certifications are good indicators, but as the practice is still evolving, and as there is still a way to go, consumers sometimes have to play catch up. While some players self-declare their products with notices such as “recycled content” or “reduced use of resources”, and although they may be true, it is up to the consumer to validate these claims. If the seller does not know the answers to your questions, it is highly possible that the furniture does not pass the test! Therefore, consumers can ask these relevant questions in order to be able to make well-informed decisions:
- Does the manufacturer use local materials? Do his manufacturing practices preserve biodiversity? Where does the wood, textile or metal that make up the furniture come from? For instance, manufacturers should certify that they practice responsible management of forest resources. In Quebec, a host of manufacturers make great efforts in preserving environment in their fabrication process. Some of them undertake interesting initiatives such as planting a tree for every tree they use (Bermex), or replanting trees for each piece of furniture manufactured (Huppé) or sold on the Web (De Gaspé).
- Is the manufacturer looking to reduce energy and resource consumption? For example, Kastella recycles pieces and scraps. No waste! Another example is Cuisine Denis Couture, who is equipped with more energy-efficient production tools.
- Does the manufacturer have an environmentally sound distribution and packaging practice? Since transportation is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, the choice of a local manufacturer is likely to contribute to the reduction of emissions. In addition, green packaging also has a large impact on the ecological footprint. For example, Romano, in its commitment to environmental protection, uses only 100% recyclable packaging.
- Does the manufacturer care about their product’s durability? Eco-conscious consumers in search of new furniture will generally choose high-quality, solid and durable furniture, which will be part of their decor for a long time. Like a multitude of other furniture manufacturers in Quebec, the Montreal manufacturer Meub is doing just that!
- Does the manufacturer prioritize health and quality of life? Does he adhere to a social equity code of conduct? For example, the non-profit organization and furniture manufacturer Bois Urbain, which is sensitive to sustainable development, supports local social economy by providing assistance to 18-35-year-olds who are experiencing difficulties in entering the job market.
Eco-responsible does not mean “boring”. The offer has largely evolved over the years. Indeed, it is now easier than ever to find ethically sustainable and environmentally friendly products that do not skimp on style. The creative talent, as well as the vitality and audacity of Quebec furniture manufacturers bear witness to this. While focusing on an environmentally and socially conscious philosophy, they produce furniture that stands out and breathes uniqueness, functionality and aesthetics into our spaces. When it’s time to get new furniture, turn to your local industry and choose Québec Furniture!