How to find sustainable office furniture
Updated: Oct 29, 2021
Sustainability is a hot topic right now, especially when it comes to interiors – and office furnishings are no exception. Not only do they have to be practical and look good, but tick the durability, sustainability and integrity boxes too. As a result, many business owners are looking for sustainable office furniture – but how do you know you’ve got it right? Thankfully, the team at Layrd Design has lots of experience, so we’ve put together some of our top tips to help you get started.
Wherever possible, check where your proposed furnishings are made – and the materials used – to ensure sustainable manufacture. If there’s no clear label identifying the country of origin, it may be impossible to tell exactly where and how it was produced and – more importantly – what from. Bear in mind that if the item is surprisingly cheap, it may not be sustainable. And remember: the further away the country of origin, the further it has to travel to get to you, increasing the size of its carbon footprint.
Wellbeing and sustainability
The routine use of unsustainable materials – such as solvents, restricted substances, plastics and chemicals – in some office furniture can result in the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and atmospheric pollutants. These contaminants can potentially affect employee health and wellbeing by reducing air quality, which is thought to cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). In the short term, it can lead to coughs, headaches, nosebleeds, fatigue and breathing difficulties. To protect the wellbeing of your team and the wider environment, incorporate salvaged or recycled materials; look for items with low or no VOCs; opt for recyclable or modifiable pieces and choose products manufactured and supplied via environmentally friendly means.
When buying office furniture, it’s important to consider what happens to your furnishings when they’re retired. While it may seem premature to think about sending your new office furniture to landfill, it always helps to plan for the future.
Instead of wrestling with your conscience, you could consider renting your workplace furniture rather than buying it. In fact, John Lewis has partnered with Fat Llama to offer a furniture rental service. Even better, IKEA will buy back old furniture to recycle, repurpose and resell when it’s come to the end of its life with you. While both programmes are currently aimed at residential customers, the model could be rolled out to commercial spaces. As the public becomes more conscious of the sustainable choices available in all aspects of their lives, this is set to become a popular option.
To be sure of provenance and sustainable supply chains, look out for specific certification logos when buying office furniture. They clearly signpost what you’re getting, as they give third-party verification that the product in question has sustainable attributes. Examples include:
● The Furniture Industry Sustainability Programme (FISP) by FIRA. This scheme is setting the benchmark for sustainable working practices within the UK furniture industry.
● The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensures that wood or wood-derived products are responsibly sourced from verified forests around the world.
● The Greenguard Environmental Institute certifies items with low chemical emissions.
● The BIFMA LEVEL sustainable furniture certification has three classifications, ranging from 1 to 3. Third-party evaluation takes into account various factors in a bid to achieve a more sustainable, cleaner and healthier built environment. The higher the level, the more sustainable the product.
● Cradle to Cradle Certified® means products are safe and responsibly made, that they are sustainable and have a positive impact on their environment.
● FEMB Level is voluntary and aims to set an overarching standard for greener and more sustainable manufacturing throughout Europe.
Want to create a sustainable workplace?
We can help. We can source office furniture from a wide range of suppliers, ensuring that your workplace minimises its impact on the environment while supporting the wellbeing of your teams. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a call.