Sustainable Furniture and Home

In this day in age we all should have a conscience about the products we buy and use. It seems that you can buy anything, ‘fair trade’ these days from coffee to diamonds. Furniture and home wares are no exception. But what exactly makes something qualify as fair trade and sustainable?

Sustainable products are not just those that are good for the environment, although that is a significant factor. They must also be safe and healthy for the people who interact with them; socially sustainable and economically maintainable. We must look at the entire life cycle of our eco furniture and home ware products.

But what is fair trade? According to the Fair Trade Federation, it means “a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade.” However Wikipedia defines it as “an organised social movement which promotes standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fair trade labelled and unlabelled goods.”

In summary of the above, the movement basically looks at the exports from developing or third world nations coming into more developed and richer countries.

There are a few main questions that need to be answered to understand what makes a product for the above criteria.

What materials are needed? Are they renewable? How are the people who make them treated and paid? Are they exposed to any harmful substances or chemicals? Is the environment exposed to any of these harmful substances also? Where is the product made? Does it benefit the local community? Is the manufacturer engaged in responsible use of power and water? Do they recycle? How much energy has to be used in the transportation? How long will it last? When the item is thrown away can it be recycled? Is it biodegradable?