Organic foods, energy-efficient lights, appliances and non-toxic household cleaners are just a small part of a sustainable lifestyle. These are examples of things that have been recieving more attention around being more environmentally friendly. Something that is usually overlooked is furniture. The production of, and use of furniture has a huge impact on forests, landfills and the amount of toxic chemicals we live with.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), established in 1993, certifies responsible management of forests around the world. It sets standards and certifies and labels forest products. Furniture manufacturers can select wood that is grown with social and environmental responsibly.
Although FSC is small, they have established globally recognized standards and address illegal logging, global warming and deforestation. These initiatives have a powerful effect on environmental conservation, poverty alleviation, economic development and political and social change.
Today, sustainability is built into any viable business plan, but it was not always like that. Before 2000, the tax incentives for entrepreneurs to participate in eco-friendly ventures were very few. Between 2002 and 2008, thanks to consumer and media attention, funding for green initiatives increased. There were many small businesses in the 1990’s including EKLA HOME that struggled to produce eco-friendly products. Founded by Emily Kroll, EKLA HOME makes sustainable furniture and has since the 90’s.
When Kroll tried to get capital for her eco-friendly passion, even four years ago, she was told her furniture was a vanity product and not part of the green energy movement. She knew better. Furniture was one of the highest grossing industries in the U.S. at that time and Kroll was determined to pursue sustainable furnishing that avoids deforestation and toxic chemicals.
Using the same processes that were used to make furniture before the industrial age, EKLA HOME makes sustainable furnishing like few furniture companies today. Their employees work in a toxin-free environment and use natural light as much as possible. They use the raw materials that are available close to the manufacturing facility to reduce their carbon footprint and avoiding transportation costs. They only use the lowest possible Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) for their paints and coatings. The rubber for seals and footings is 97% pure with 3% binders of soda ash and zinc. No chemical additives are used during the fabrication process. All of their fabrics for upholstery are eco-fabrics. Along with the FSC hardwoods, they use reclaimed wood whenever relevant. Even their packaging materials are recycled.
Reclaimed wood is a growing industry in the U.S. and Canada as buildings, barns, warehouses, bridges, ships, wine tanks and other structures are carefully dismantled and sold as reclaimed lumber. Some of this wood is rare today and very valuable. From old buildings they are reclaiming flooring, doors, beams, lumber, windows and cabinets. The wood is reused as it is, or re-milled and sold for furniture, decks, doors, fences and much more.
Customers can gain LEED credits when purchasing EKLA HOME upholstered furniture. The LEED Green Building Rating System (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifies homes, buildings and neighborhoods based on credits for water efficiency, sustainable sites, materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, innovation and design process and indoor environmental quality.
EKLA HOME sustainable furnishing comes under the category of materials and resources and indoor environmental quality. Customers receive points for the use of alternate materials, Indoor air quality (IAQ) compliant products, regional materials, rapidly renewable material, certified wood and low emitting materials. LEED credits are part of an incentive program to further green initiatives. The incentives include tax breaks, tax credits, grants, low-interest loans among other things.
EKLA HOME is an example of a business that is sucessfully filling a gaping hole that is the eco-furniture industy. Hopefully more businesses will follow this type of lead.