Red flags to watch out for when purchasing eco-friendly furniture

Here at Homewood, our team is extra conscious of our planet and its people, which directly fuels our passion for sustainability.

In a time on earth largely characterised by a generation of consumers, wasting without a second thought and destroying (or supporting the destruction of) precious resources for our own material gain, we want to leave a better legacy.

For us, it’s all about looking at our entire manufacturing process, from the woods we source to the methods used in the factory and even down to the type of fasteners used. We’re constantly revisiting how we do things to identify where we can operate more sustainably to truly offer you, the consumer, eco furniture in South Africa.

How have we “walked the walk”- so to speak?

In recent times, here are but three examples:

  • We no longer offer ash, oak, and plantation teak as options for our handcrafted furniture. This decision was made bearing in mind the huge carbon cost of importing these woods from overseas – we simply couldn’t justify the negative environmental impact of shipping when beautiful (and plentiful alien invasive) wood species were available right here, on our shores.
  • From an employment perspective, this means we rather contract work to local people who are doing the difficult and complex job of removing alien invasive woods from our natural South African habitats.
  • We’ve moved away from steam bending to curve machining wood (a method we used to swear by) due to the sheer amount of water required as well as the amount of electricity to heat the water to produce steam in the process. We’ve thus replaced it with another, more sustainable solution which uses less water, and power and uses more offcut wood – so less waste all around.
  • We only use wood in our furniture. Other furniture companies claim the use of steel is sustainable… As the customer, keep in mind that steel is mined, it’s not renewable, and requires a huge amount of energy to produce…

Is that eco furniture what it claims to be?  

Many companies have caught on to the sustainability consumer ‘trend’, and unfortunately, not all are quite as “eco-friendly- as they may claim to be…

Here are two big red flags to look out for when purchasing eco-friendly furniture in South Africa:

  • Imported woods – as consumers, sometimes we need to look beyond the physical material of a product. While its wood may be sourced ethically, if a piece of furniture travelled miles to reach its destination, burning a hefty amount of carbon on its journey, any brownie points earned from its origin story are rendered less weighty (in our humble opinion).
  • Wood sourced from NON certified plantation-grown trees
    Plantation-grown trees such as pine or Saligna may not be very sustainable in the South African context if they don’t accompany some sort of certification like FSC. Pine, for example, is an alien invasive which is grown plantation style (like growing a crop) but whose seeds easily disperse into the surrounding South African eco-system, notably our fynbos and indigenous forest biomes, wreaking havoc on water sources.

Here at Homewood, we’re not perfect and have been on a journey of learning and implementation to get to where we regard our offering of genuinely eco-friendly furniture. We applaud every step taken in our industry to move towards this end goal.

However, we do believe in empowering you, the consumer, to ensure you’re not hoodwinked into purchasing furniture (often at a premium price) labelled as “eco-friendly”, which simply is not. 

To find out more, read about our sustainability journey or browse our collection of eco-friendly furniture.

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