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Why Choose Sustainable Office Furniture?

28 November 2023

Picking furniture for your office is quite complex, comprising factors like budget, type of furniture, comfort, and aesthetics.

However, that is not all: as an increasing number of organizations look to incorporate ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices into their operations, eco-friendliness has become another crucial consideration for office furniture.

But, why should you factor-in sustainability when picking your office furniture? In this blog, we will discuss the reasons to choose sustainable office furniture, as well as provide a few other tips for making more sustainable furniture choices.

Why Choose Sustainable Office Furniture?

Reduces Negative Environmental Impact:

Sustainable office furniture offers a myriad of environmental benefits. For one, this type of furniture generally has a longer useful life, which means that it will not find its way into a landfill site within the first two years of its purchase.

Secondly, sustainable furniture uses lower quantities of fuel, electricity, and energy. This means that promoting eco-friendly furniture items can reduce our overall energy consumption.

Lastly, this kind of furniture is made using environmentally-friendly items; this once again, is good news for Mother Earth. For instance, any items free from VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) do not release any harmful gasses during the manufacturing process, thereby helping to preserve the environment.

Saves Money:

Sustainable furniture might seem expensive, but is a significantly better economic choice in the long-run. An example of such furniture is the E7L Standing Desk, which comes with extensive warranties for each part and component.

A high-quality item might cost more than its cheaper counterpart, but at least it will not require four to five replacements during a mere ten-year period. Go for a sustainable option, and you can benefit from it for years on end.

In other words, sustainable furniture items pay for themselves through their extensive useful lives.

Improves Brand Image:

Proactively focusing on ESG principles has become a major priority for modern-day organizations. As consumers become increasingly aware and educated, they are looking to get into business with organizations that fulfill their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) –even if it means that they have to pay a premium.

However, it is important that companies do not restrict their ESG propositions to their products or services; being environmentally responsible should become a part of everything that your business does – including buying office furniture. Using sustainable furniture items is one way to show the world that caring about the environment has become part of your business's DNA. This will allow the external shareholders to see your business in a better light, improving your image and attracting more customers and revenue.

Companies are also pursuing a number of green certifications including SKA, LEED, and BREEM, for their premises, so as to be able to create sustainable workplaces. Such certifications send the message that your organization is going above and beyond to make sustainability a top priority.

Improved Health and Wellbeing:

Sustainable office furniture uses no or minimal amounts of chemicals during the manufacturing process, which means that you and your workers will be able to steer clear of harmful air pollutants like VOCs, Sulphur Dioxide, and Nitrogen Dioxide. Being exposed to these pollutants can lead to a number of unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms, including nausea, lightheadedness, dizziness, headaches, and mental confusion. The VOC Formaldehyde is particularly concerning, and has been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Formaldehyde is often part of the paints and adhesives used to manufacture a number of things, including furniture.

The truth is that, any furniture that is bad for the environment is also, in some way, detrimental to human health. Hence, picking sustainable furniture not only allows you to protect the environment, but also shield yourself and your workers from a number of short- and long-term health issues. In addition, high air quality within the workspace can lead to improved performance and productivity. According to a study, low CO2 (Carbon Dioxide), high ventilation, and low cumulative VOCs are all associated with greater cognitive performance.

Thus, sustainable office furniture can improve the health and wellbeing of your workers, increase their productivity (which, in turn, helps your business' bottom line), and improve the employees' overall life quality – all while doing your bit in preserving the environment.

Retain and Attract the Top Talent:

Just like customers, workers are also concerned about the environmental impact of the organizations that they work for, and how these companies might be contributing to issues like climate change and global warming.

A survey involving 2,000 office workers revealed that 65% employees would prefer working for companies with elaborate environmental policies. On the flipside, almost as many employees (64%) would possibly or definitely turn down an employment offer from a company with a poor environmental record.

Hence, creating and implementing an all-encompassing sustainability policy tells your current and potential employees that you care about more than just your profitability, and joining or working for your company will allow them to become a part of a cause larger than their own selves.

Tips for Choosing Sustainable Office Furniture:

Like we mentioned, sustainable and eco-friendly furniture is one that does not find its way to the landfill once its useful life is over. By prioritizing quality over quantity, you will be able to help the environment, as well as your company's bank balance, in the long-run. Here are a few ways to make that happen:

Go Minimal:

The consumerist mentality is one of the main reasons that the environment is in dire straits. By owning and using fewer items (such as furniture), you will reduce the amount of waste that you create – this, in turn, will help you reduce your company's carbon footprint.

The minimalistic approach involves adopting the less is more mentality, where you look to purchase items that are flexible, multipurpose, and practical. For instance, instead of buying a side-table, you can use a vacant, low stool as a makeshift side-table.

Choose Furniture Made Using Certified Sustainable Wood:

Trees play a key role in helping the earth maintain its atmospheric balance. Unfortunately, thanks to deforestation and unsustainable forms of harvesting, we have significantly depleted this priceless natural resource.

When picking out sustainable furniture for your office, look for items that have been manufactured using reclaimed wood or sustainably-harvested tree farms and forests. One way to determine if a furniture item is sustainable is the FSC (Forest Stewardship Certification), which is only granted to products that are made using sustainably-harvested wood.

Go for Recyclable Items:

Another trait of sustainable items is that they are made to be recycled. You should buy products that are not only made using recyclable products, but can also be easily disassembled once they go past their useful lives and are ready for recycling. Remember to by C2C (Cradle to Cradle) certified products, and steer clear of ‘monstrous hybrids', since these cannot be effectively disassembled and recycled.

Recyclable furniture allows for re-purposing and remaking, and will not end up in the landfill once it stops serving its primary purpose.

Choose Bamboo Furniture Items:

Bamboo is a tremendously sustainable material – not only can it be grown quickly, it is highly durable and very easy to work with. Other than that, it is extremely versatile, and can be used for modern furniture as well as for flooring.

However, while bamboo is one of the key players in sustainable furniture, it does have a couple of drawbacks. For one, glue is used to hold bamboo furniture together, and this glue often contains toxic or harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde. Secondly, even though the bamboo plant requires few (if any) pesticides, it does consume large amounts of water and can sometimes absorb all the soil nutrients.

Choose Reclaimed Wood:

Reclaimed wood is wood that has been recycled from old fences, furniture items, buildings, and many other sources. Since wood can last a very long time –especially if it has been adequately looked after – re-purposing it is a great way to help the environment while maximizing the use of finite resources.

By choosing reclaimed wood furniture items, you are doing your bit in reducing deforestation.

Focus on Low Toxicity:

Sometimes, certain materials present in furniture contain chemicals that keep releasing substances into the atmosphere – this process is referred to as off-gassing.

Whether these off-gasses are harmful or not will depend upon the materials that the furniture is made from, and the chemicals that it has been treated with. Formaldehyde and flame retardants are not just the most common chemicals found in furniture, but also the most toxic. Furniture items with the Greenguard certificate promise low levels of toxicity.

Another way to prevent toxic off-gasses is to choose furniture items that have either been untreated, or treated using natural substances. For instance, cotton-upholstered couches are less likely to have been treated with harmful chemicals.

Final Word:

To sum up, using sustainable office furniture is associated with a host of tangible and intangible advantages. We hope that this blog helped you better understand those advantages, as well as provide a primer on how to go about identifying and purchasing sustainable furniture items.