Choosing eco home furnishings can be really tricky. Particularly for items that are a little more complex in their manufacture and don’t necessarily have a daily energy use. Subsequently, the provenance of manufacture and materials, embodied energy and durability of these pieces really comes into question.
Sofas are a prime example of a high-ticket, key item of furniture that we all want to ensure is right for our home, and without any unnecessary impact on the environment. Currently, the choice is limited, but getting better all the time, as manufacturers and retailers face up to their responsibilities and adjust to market demand.
So, if you’re scratching your head and wondering which way to turn, here are the key things you should be thinking about when making your sofa choice:
- 1. Ensure it’s made from good quality durable materials â€“ don’t buy super cheap sofas no matter how enticing the deal seems!
- 2. Make sure the timber frames are made from FSC timber
- 3. Ask about toxin levels of materials, key baddies to look out for are brominated fire retardants, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- 4. Longevity of use and style â€“ choose neutral colours you won’t get bored with or go out of fashion quickly
- 5. Ideally it will use organic and/or neutral materials
- 6. Â It could use recycled materials or be a renovated old sofa.
- 7. Ensure ease of maintenance, such as removable covers and solid timber frames
- 8. Vintage is always a good option
- 9. Try and buy domestically-made sofas ie that are made in the country that you live in.
So with these ideas in mind, here are a few sofas and armchairs that are being madeÂ betterÂ with Â sustainability and style at the fore.
These Tetrad eco sofas and chairs are manufactured in a way that causes no harm to the environment. They are entirely free of man-made materials and other nasty things like foam and oil- or petroleum- based products. Frames are made of wood, webbings from hessian and jute and the steel springs have no chemical coating. And best of all, the upholstery materials, including wool and duck feathers, are 100% natural and incredibly comfortable.
This Tetrad Totnes chair, for example, is upholstered in hand-antiqued Water Buffalo hide, cushioned with Mongolian horsehair and rests on hardwood eco-walnut feet. Whilst thisÂ chairÂ is made in Thailand it does have some good sustainable credentials – plus it’s a simple stylish, quality-built range that will last for many years.
The same can be said for the Salford-based Warwick range (good news for UK buyers) from Greenwoods Furniture. With a frame made from seasoned and sustainable beach, and using award-winning Duratech fibres and a high quality recycled-bottle filling, it’s a great way of sitting down, doing nothing and still making a difference.
And if the ‘lived-in’ look is something you’re keen on, then how about this Safia sofa from Environment Furniture. Believe it or not, it’s made from vintage canvas that once formed US army tents. Each sofa is made completely unique by the marks and wear that come as part of the reused material deal. Make sofas not war.
And if you fancy a few more colours than army green, these unique patchwork chairs by Kelly Swallow will provide a burst of beautiful colour. I recently worked with Kelly, who supplied a beautiful chair for an episode of the BBC’s DIY SOS, based on the idea that a ‘swatch of vintage fabric is like a little piece of history’. It’s a nice idea and they certainly make very elegant furniture.
So, Sofa, so green, so good.