9 Best characteristics of sustainable furniture 2021

9 Best characteristics of sustainable furniture 2021

If you’re fortunate to be working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be searching around your space for the most comfortable desk setup.

Especially for apartment dwellers, a separate office space can be difficult to come across. To help you find the perfect office chair, or maybe a desk that’ll help you keep your laptop off the dining room table, we’ve got you covered.

Outfitting your home can be a daunting task, especially when looking for ethically made and environmentally sustainable staples. Thankfully, there are a variety of affordable, eco-friendly furniture options available.

These brands employ materials harvested from sustainable resources and recycled goods and focus on fair trade and responsible production practices.

If you’re outfitting a conscious home, you might also like our guide to natural and eco-friendly online mattress companies.

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Sustainability is a thread woven through everything we do. It’s where and how we make our furniture. oh It’s the materials we use. frends It’s how we deliver it. In short, it’s a choice we make to consider the big picture of how our designs impact the planet.

While we’re always aiming to do more and better, we believe Room & Board offers you one of the most sustainable ways to create a home you love: with timeless furniture and home decor made to last.

Sustainable By Design

Sustainable furniture starts with design. We combine our timeless modern look with quality craftsmanship for furniture that has an enduring place in your home, helping combat the nearly 10,000 tons of furniture that goes to landfills annually.

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I’d like to believe that it’s an exciting moment for sleek, stylish, and exceptionally designed eco-friendly and sustainable furniture. Given how rapidly eco-friendly fashion, footwear, and accessories brands are gaining mainstream followings (see Summersalt, Reformation, Allbirds, and Rothy’s), one would hope that furniture brands would be keeping up the sustainable pace.

After all, our sofas are mostly stuffed with petroleum-derived cushions. Our dressers and are all-too-often made of illegally harvested wood. Much of modernism is built on petroleum-derived plastic. In the age of climate change, the furniture industry is ripe for sustainability disruption.

So, is a sustainability revolution disrupting the furniture industry? The best answer I can offer is: not yet.

Yes, there are upstart and longstanding furniture brands demonstrating how to merge design and sustainability (I highlight them below).

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And a number of major furniture retailers are committed to real, concerted action on the environment. You can shop wide selections of sustainable furniture at West Elm, Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, and Restoration Hardware.

And Ikea, yes that Ikea, today sources 80% of its wood from recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified sources. At some point this year, Ikea plans to reach 100% sustainable sourcing for all of its wood. This is an incredible milestone.

Is bamboo furniture sustainable?

Unprocessed bamboo is a sustainable alternative to timber and steel. We can maintain bamboo’s sustainability by using it for furniture, flooring, and utensils. It’s true that bamboo is very lightweight. Importing it has a smaller carbon footprint than importing heavier materials like wood.

But having launched my first eco-friendly furniture company back in 2004 (Vivavi) and having long been a fan and champion of well-made sustainable products, my sense is that, industry-wide, sustainable furniture practices are advancing slowly despite the urgent need to transform almost every aspect of the furniture industry.

Fifteen years ago, virtually out of nowhere, sustainable furniture burst on the scene. It wasn’t just in the obvious locations you’d expect to find it like New York City (with brands like Brave Space Design, Scrapple, and Q Collection), Seattle (Greener Lifestyles), Portland (Material Furniture), and San Francisco (Rhubarb Decor and Modern Bamboo).

There were brands like Acronym in Kansas City, and PIE in Miami. And there were sustainable design veterans like Peter Danko and John Wiggers whose designs rapidly gained a wider following.

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Wahlers makes sleek modern furniture using recycled and other sustainable materials. The R.U.M. chair (pictured above) is made entirely of recycled ocean plastic (from discarded fishnets) and recycled steel. A Danish company, Wehlers produces products in the tradition of minimalist Scandinavian design and strives to reduce its environmental footprint wherever possible. 


Simply focus is on modern, minimalist, sustainable furniture that fits your life. The contemporary dining table (shown above) is a flat-pack beauty, made of FSC certified sustainable wood and a non-toxic, food-grade finish. Like all Simple products, it’s designed for rapid assembly and dis-assembly (no nails or screws necessary). Simply sleek, streamlined designs also come at streamlined prices; the company ships directly to customers, cutting out the middleman and delivering exceptional value for an experts level of craftsmanship. All products are manufactured at a family-owned factory near Asheville, North Carolina.

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Nothing about Loll’s minimalist modern aesthetic gives away that its waterproof outdoor furniture is made of 100% recycled materials. The main source of its material is recycled single-use milk jugs. In fact, since its founding in 2005, Loll has recycled over 120 million jugs into sleek, distinctive furniture with a colorful modern flair. Find everything you need to furnish your outdoor space in a sustainable style.


1. Materials – the most important criteria: look for sustainably harvested wood and the FSC certification; recycled, reclaimed, and reused materials; and rapidly renewable materials

2. Non-toxic – adhesives and finishes that consider the health of workers, consumers, and the planet

3. Quality – furniture that stands the test of time

4. Manufacturing practices – operations that use clean energy and minimize energy and waste

5. Recyclability – components that are easily dismantled and recycled at the end of a product’s useful life


Orange 22 Modern makes contemporary furniture that’s sleek, bright, and futuristic. Manufactured in Austin, TX, the Botanist collection (shown above) of benches and tables are made of recycled aluminum. If I were a soda can, I would love to return as one of them in my next life. Made in partnership with a roster of talented designers, each designer selects a charity or foundation and Orange 22 Modern makes a donation with each sale that matches the designer’s royalties.

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Founded by two brothers in Los Angeles who are sustainable furniture veterans, Medley Home offers contemporary furniture options for every room in your home. The sectional (shown above) is made with an FSC certified wood frame and Zero VOC adhesives. Customers can also choose organic natural latex to fill the frame, arms, and seat cushions. Medley Home will wrap the latex in wool and also use wool as the fill for the back pillows. Organic cotton is used for internal linings. It’s pretty much the most sustainable couch you can order to merge contemporary design with deep respect for nature.


Michael Iannone’s namesake furniture brand has been crafting unique, sustainably designed furniture for nearly twenty years. Iannone Design incorporates a wide array of eco-friendly materials into its furniture including FSC certified plywood, reclaimed wood, bamboo, and cork. The dresser (shown above) utilizes a material called kirei that’s made from the left-over, post-harvest stalks of the sorghum plant. All Iannone Design products are made in the USA using low VOC finishes to support healthy indoor air quality.

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7. THUMA sustainable furniture

The growing bed-in-a-box trend is renewing our attention on furnishing our bedrooms in sustainable style. Thuma’s flat-pack, impeccably designed bed offers a paired down, natural and streamlined aesthetic. It’s made in Vietnam of repurposed rubberwood from trees that have reached the end of their useful life producing natural latex and would otherwise be discarded. It assembles using Japanese joinery techniques that eliminate the need for any tools.


Based in Copenhagen, Mater was founded in 2006 as a conscious and ethical brand with sustainability embedded in the company’s DNA. For example, the ocean chair and table (shown above) are made largely of recycled ocean plastic. The only recycling facility in the world for discarded fishnets is in Denmark, so Mater sought an opportunity to transform this material into stunning, timeless designs that epitomize the role that design can play in solving our most pressing environmental challenges.

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How do I get sustainable furniture?

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  1. Sabai. Sabai makes affordably-priced modern and sustainable sofas. …
  2. Made Trade. Made Trade is an online destination of ethically and sustainably made goods from brands around the globe. …
  3. Thuma. …
  4. Simply. …
  5. urban green furniture. …
  6. Etsy Reclaimed.

9. EMECO sustainable furniture

Emeco’s design and manufacturing pedigree date back to WWII when the company made chairs for the US Navy. Today, Emeco is a sustainability innovation powerhouse, utilizing recycled and reclaimed materials for its distinctly modern and minimalist chairs, stools, and tables that are made in Pennsylvania. The Broom Chair (shown above) is made of a new composite material constructed from 75% reclaimed plastic; 15% reclaimed wood fiber; and 10% glass fiber.

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Located in Bradford, Vermont, Copeland Furniture’s well-designed sustainable furniture is influenced by the Arts & Crafts, Mission, Shaker, and Scandinavian movements. Since the 1970s, Copeland has sourced the timber for its hardwood furniture from the American Northern Forest, within 500 miles of its state-of-the-art factory, and has taken significant steps to ensure the company adheres to sustainable forestry practices. In 2016, Copeland installed a 3-acre solar farm that enables two-thirds of the factory’s power to be drawn from on-site renewable energy.

11. ECOBIRDY sustainable furniture

eco bird uses a proprietary process to recycle plastic waste into its high-quality, and easy-to-clean furniture for kids. Based in Belgium, all eco bird furniture production occurs in Europe. eco bird intentionally produces furniture that reveals the recycled content to make a colorful, environmentally conscious statement. The result is bright, playful, and educational. 


Andrew Moe has been making stunning, handcrafted sustainable furniture for two decades. His pieces are noted for their beveled edges, tapered legs, and notched joinery. Made to heirloom quality standards, Studio Moe uses sustainably harvested or urban salvaged American hardwoods in all of its furniture.

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Is wood furniture eco friendly?

Sustainable Furniture Materials

Biodegradable materials (like wood) are obviously ideal because they’re fully recyclable (like aluminum). If something isn’t biodegradable, then it’s crucial that it’s high quality and designed to last for years and years.

13. MODEL NO. sustainable furniture

Model No. is a future-forward sustainable furniture company that combines 3-D printing technology with eco-friendly materials. With its headquarters and manufacturing facility in Oakland, CA, Model No.’s furniture products are printed using a bio-based eco-resin derived from substances like post-feedstock corn and cassava plant starches (e.g. tapioca). Tops, bottoms, and sides are made of FSC certified wood. Everything is customizable. Choose your dimensions, shapes, and colors across a wide assortment of furniture and furnishings.


Skagerak is a Danish design company with a long commitment to quality, Scandinavian design. Founded in 1976, Skagerak has partnered with an incredible roster of designers to create its collections of indoor and outdoor furniture as well as its delightful, minimalist home furnishings and accessories. In 2016, Skagerak became a B Corporation, further formalizing its commitment to sustainability. 71% of Skagerak’s wood in its production is FSC certified. The company is aiming for 100% use of FSC certified wood by 2025.


Nikari is a Finnish furniture company with a unique, contemporary aesthetic combining modern design with Finnish craftsmanship. Founded in 1967, Nikari got its start by working with globally renowned Finnish designers such as Alvar Aalto and Kaj Franck. Wood is the focal point of Nikari’s furniture, and the company goes to great lengths to ensure it’s sourced and utilized as sustainably as possible. Nikari’s production studio is powered by 100% renewable energy thanks to the hydropower plant located right next door.

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Word on the street is that a company called Noho Move is about to release this chair that’s made of recycled plastic from waste retrieved from the ocean.

I’ll update this page as this furniture company and more like it launches their ventures to accelerate our transformation to a beautifully designed, clean economy.

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Why is sustainable furniture important?

This scheme contributes to the creation and protection of new native woodlands in the UK that will not only capture, over time, CO2 emissions but will also provide significant other environmental and social benefits to the UK.

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Sustainable Furniture designed and manufactured in the USA. GSA, case goods, reclaimed materials, dorm room, manufacturer company.


Matt Malone production manager.
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characteristics of sustainable furniture

What is sustainable furniture?

  • Woods or other materials that come from renewable sources.
  • Minimal chemicals that can pollute the environment.
  • Local material and/or manufacturing to save on transportation.

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Bringing Home Modern Bamboo Furniture. Eco-friendly, strong and stunning, bamboo is ideal for creating sustainable furniture. Bamboo grows rapidly, requires

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