Going green for the home: Furniture brands catering to eco-conscious owners

Furniture brands are catering to a growing group of eco-conscious home owners

Ethnicraft Online, which has two showrooms in Singapore - one in Eunos Avenue 7 and another at Tan Boon Liat Building - says all the pieces by the label are eco-friendly.
Ethnicraft Online, which has two showrooms in Singapore - one in Eunos Avenue 7 and another at Tan Boon Liat Building - says all the pieces by the label are eco-friendly.PHOTO: ETHNICRAFT ONLINE

More consumers today are becoming aware of the impact that their buying choices have on the environment - from smaller decisions such as refusing disposable plastic cutlery to bigger lifestyle changes such as eschewing fast fashion so as to reduce one's carbon footprint.

For eco-conscious home owners, one option is sustainable and eco-friendly furniture.

But what makes furniture eco-friendly?

Owners of interior design stores that carry environmentally friendly pieces say there are a few things to look out for, including ethically sourced materials and production methods that minimise waste.

Eco-furniture also includes pieces that use finger joints and minimise the use of glue and other chemical treatments.

Mr Jonathan Roelandts, managing director and co-founder of Ethnicraft Online, says all the pieces made by the label are eco-friendly. Ethnicraft Online is the South-east Asia hub for Ethnicraft, a Belgium-based label.

Ethnicraft Online has two showrooms here, including one in Eunos Avenue 7 and another at Tan Boon Liat Building.

"Our wood is ethically sourced. For example, our teak wood is from Java in Indonesia and is FSC certified."

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organisation that promotes responsible management of the world's forests and makes sure forestry is practised in an environmentally responsible and socially beneficial manner.

A product that is labelled "FSC certified" is one in which the wood used and the manufacturer that made it have met the requirements of the FSC.

Mr Roelandts says: "We also work closely with the government in Indonesia to replant trees and ensure that only a certain number of trees are felled each year."

The label also ensures that waste is kept to a minimum during production.

"We make full use of our materials, so nothing is wasted. Production waste, such as remnants of logs, leftover wood and sawdust, is reused for other purposes."

Sawdust, for example, is either used as fuel in drying ovens or compacted and used as a base for pallets. Leftover wood pieces are also reused in finger joints for panels or as a base material for another piece of furniture.

At local multi-label furniture store Journey East, about 80 per cent of its collection is environmentally friendly. The store at Tan Boon Liat building carries more than 10 labels from countries such as Italy and Denmark.

Co-founder of Journey East Anita Sam, 53, says the store enjoys partnering brands that demonstrate social and environmental awareness.

"We think that good design and sustainability should not be mutually exclusive and our pieces show they can go hand-in-hand."

One of Journey East's eco-friendly labels is local manufacturer d-Bodhi, which produces reclaimed teak wood furniture.

The wood comes primarily from old Javanese teak houses.

Ms Sam explains that after three generations of use, Javanese tradition requires home owners to sell their houses.

d-Bodhi buys them at a fair price, the houses are carefully dismantled and every piece of wood is labelled and transported to a sorting facility, where it is made into furniture.

Another label available at Journey East is British lighting brand Tala.

The brand uses energy-efficient LED bulbs, which use only 10 per cent of the energy of their incandescent counterparts and last 15 times longer than a traditional bulb.

Ms Sam says sustainability has become increasingly important to customers.

"It brings about an additional dimension to a brand, that there is a more holistic consideration in the design and production of the end product, which ultimately reflects on our customer's ethos and lifestyle."

Mr Roelandts says there is a growing public conscience for the environment's protection and companies can play their part.

"There are several movements in Singapore focusing on reducing wastage in private homes. People are taking responsibility, but what about companies?

"It would be easier and faster to change our daily habits if companies also help by proposing eco-friendly products."


5 ECO-FRIENDLY PIECES

1 VORONOI II BULB


PHOTO: TALA

$270 (pendant fixture sold separately), from Tala, available at Journey East

The bulb has an average lifespan of 20,000 hours. An incandescent bulb, on the other hand, typically lasts 2,000 hours.

2 RECTANGULAR WALL MIRROR


PHOTO: CRATE & BARREL

$1,799, from Crate & Barrel

A large wall mirror with marquetry made with reclaimed wood.

3 OAK BENCH


PHOTO: ETHNICRAFTONLINE

from $720 (depending on length), from Ethnicraft

The label uses European oak from well-managed forests that are focused on preserving oak's sustainability.

4 TANUM RUG


PHOTO: IKEA

$9.90, from Ikea

These colourful handwoven rugs are made with leftover cotton fabric from Ikea's bedlinen production.

5 VINTAGE LEATHER ARM CHAIR IN TEAK


PHOTO: KARPENTER

$792, from Karpenter, available at Moutain Teak

This arm chair is made from FSC-certified solid reclaimed teak.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2018, with the headline 'Going green for the home'. Subscribe