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Sustainable furniture. What does it mean?

Sustainable furniture. What does it mean?

As people become more aware of the impact their daily actions have on the environment, they're seeking out eco-friendly options in all aspects of their lives, including interior design. One of the ways to make your home more sustainable is by choosing sustainable furniture. But what is sustainable furniture, and why is it important? In this article, we will explore what sustainable furniture means and provide tips on identifying and purchasing sustainable options.

Why sustainable furniture is important

Sustainable furniture is made from environmentally friendly and ethically sourced materials. It's designed to have a minimal impact on the environment, reduce carbon footprint, and support fair labor practices. 

Environmental benefits

One of the main benefits of sustainable furniture is that it's designed to have minimal environmental impact. This is achieved in several ways.

First, renewable furniture uses environmentally friendly materials. For example, MasayaCo furniture is handmade teak wood sustainably harvested from tree farms we own and manage in Central America. By controlling the origin of the wood, we know the teak is sourced responsibly and the land is ethically managed.

masayaco teak manufacturing

Sustainable furniture uses materials with a lower environmental impact than traditional materials like wood from virgin forests or plastics. These materials use less virgin raw materials and fossil fuels, ultimately conserving natural resources. MasayaCo’s tree farms are located in Central America. This means we use less fossil fuels during transport than companies that manufacture their products in Asia and sell in the US. Furthermore, all wood in our furniture is harvested from land that was previously clear cut. Because of this, every furniture purchase from MasayaCo is an investment in an ongoing reforestation effort. To date, we have planted over 1.2 million trees converting previously denuded land back into a growing forest.

Sustainable furniture is also designed to last. A long-lasting design reduces the need for replacements, thus minimizes landfill waste while conserving natural resources. Energy and emissions associated with manufacturing, disposal, and transportation are reduced when people purchase with longevity in mind. All of MasayaCo’s furniture is heirloom quality, handmade from solid teak. Solid wood furniture can last generations as it is sturdy, durable and gains character with age.

All in all, furnishing your home with furniture made from eco-friendly materials and designed to last longer is one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Social and economical benefits

Renewable furniture also has significant social benefits. By purchasing from a small company like MasayaCo you are supporting a company that supports fair labor practices and ethically sourced materials. This means that workers involved in furniture production are paid fairly and work in safe and healthy conditions.

masayaco worker

In addition to its obvious environmental impact, sustainably managed forests have a positive economic impact on local communities that is often not considered. In most economically depressed regions, like Nicaragua, it is vital for locals to gather economic benefit from their land. Often, out of economic need, people will accept minimal payment to permit their land to be clear-cut for uses like cattle farming or big agriculture. Through our reforestation efforts we engage with local communities to offer an alternative use and business opportunity that is consistent with natural & organic land use. This is both beneficial to the environment, and a sustainable economic model.

In addition, renewable furniture is often produced using traditional manufacturing techniques, preserving cultural heritage and supporting local artisans. This allows you to discover unique designs that larger, corporate companies which rely on mass production do not carry.

Choosing sustainable furniture from a small maker like MasayaCo as opposed to furniture from larger, corporate, furniture conglomerates is a step towards creating a more socially responsible world while adding truly unique pieces to your home. 

Examples of sustainable furniture 

If you're in the market for sustainably-built furniture, you'll be pleased to know that MasayaCo offers a collection of eco-friendly furniture made with high-quality and renewable materials using our Seed to Seat production model.

Our furniture designs are handmade and crafted with sustainability in mind, ensuring that you are investing in environmentally responsible and stylish furniture.

An example of our standout eco-friendly furniture pieces are our elegant wood dining tables, handmade from renewable teak and offered in five different finishes.

These dining tables are beautiful and designed to last, reducing the need for frequent replacements and conserving natural resources. Our teak hardwood is sustainably harvested from our tree farms thus, reducing the impact on the environment. We also offer a variety of other eco-friendly furniture pieces, including comfortable rocking chairs, armchairs, beds, and storage pieces

Because all of our furniture is designed with renewability in mind, you can be sure that you're making an environmentally responsible choice when you choose MasayaCo.

How to identify sustainable furniture

Identifying sustainable furniture can be challenging, especially with the growing number of companies claiming to offer eco-friendly options. However, there are several ways to ensure that your furniture is truly sustainably-built. 

Materials used

A great way to identify sustainable furniture is by looking at the materials used. Sustainably-built furniture is made from environmentally friendly materials, such as teak wood selectively harvested from ethically managed timber stands. 

These materials have a lower environmental impact than traditional materials like wood felled from virgin forests or synthetic materials like plastic, metal, or concrete.

Moreover, sustainable furniture is designed to last longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements and minimizing landfill waste. This makes shopping for quality an important part of sustainable purchasing. Look for furniture handmade from durable materials that can withstand wear and tear.

Manufacturing processes

You can also identify eco-friendly furniture by considering manufacturing processes. Sustainably-built furniture is often produced using eco-friendly production methods, such as minimizing and recycling waste and by-products while also utilizing renewable energy sources when applicable. Look for brands that prioritize energy-efficient production methods and minimize waste.

At MasayaCo, we use every part of the tree. As our timber is milled into lumber, we gather and utilize the scraps to make cutting boards, coasters, and other smaller items made from wood. We collect our sawdust for use as biomass fuel.

Additionally, look for brands that prioritize fair labor practices. This means that workers involved in furniture production are paid fairly and work in safe and healthy conditions. In addition to training creating jobs at our factory, tree farms, nursery and office, we also annually donate saplings to local communities around Nicaragua so they can grow trees, too. We don’t just want our trees growing on our farms, we want them to grow where they are needed.

Tips for shopping responsibly

Shopping for sustainable furniture requires some research and due diligence, but it's worth the effort to positively impact the environment and support ethical labor practices.

Research brands

When shopping for sustainable furniture, it's important to research brands that prioritize sustainability and ethical labor practices. You can research brands online or ask for recommendations from friends or family who are also interested in sustainably-built furniture. At MasayaCo, we replace depleted resources and are committed to sustaining the resources used to make our products by selectively harvesting from our own teak farms while continuing our reforestation efforts.

Look for sustainable materials

When looking for sustainable furniture, choose materials that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Teak is a wonderful wood for building many things from furniture to houses because it has a lower environmental impact than traditional materials like virgin wood or synthetic materials. Using sustainably harvested teak a material can reduce the need for raw materials, conserving natural resources.

Consider manufacturing processes

Look for furniture brands that prioritize energy-efficient production methods and minimize waste. These practices reduce the environmental impact of furniture production and support eco-friendly manufacturing practices. 

Additionally, prioritize brands that use natural and renewable materials, as these materials also minimize the environmental impact of furniture production and reduce waste.

Make informed purchasing decisions

When purchasing, choose furniture designed to last longer. Look for well-made and durable furniture, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to ensure its longevity.

Moreover, choose furniture that aligns with your style and needs so that you're less likely to replace it in the future. Consider investing in multi-functional furniture, which can serve multiple purposes and reduce the need for additional furniture.

What materials should I look for?

Choosing sustainable materials for furniture manufacturing is essential to creating eco-friendly furniture. The teak hardwood we farm at MasayaCo is one of the best choices when it comes to renewable materials used in furniture production.

Teak wood

Teak is an excellent choice when it comes to sustainable hardwoods. Teak is a strong, stable hardwood that grows relatively quickly compared to other tropical hardwoods with similar characteristics. Teak plantings can produce wood usable for interior use in just 5 - 7 years. Teak stands produce harvest-ready wood for outdoor use in 25 years (compared to other species like Ipe that take over 60 years to produce usable wood).

Teak is renowned for its natural weather resistance, strength, and durability. Teak is a stable wood that has minimal movement as it settles to different environmental conditions. The oils and rubber content present in the teak hardwood make it exceptionally resistant to moisture, pests, and decay, making it an ideal material choice for both indoor and outdoor furniture. 

Sustainability plays a major role in teak wood cultivation. Learn more about our Seed to Seat model.

At MasayaCo, we practice selective harvesting techniques. Trees are removed from our farms by people and oxen to minimize disruption to the newly planted forest. And, we ALWAYS plant more than we harvest. This way the forest keeps growing, capturing carbon as it expands.

In addition to sustainable cultivation, teak, well known for its longevity, is a wood that ages beautifully. Furniture handcrafted from teak can potentially last for decades, reducing the need for frequent replacements. 

By choosing MasayaCo furniture handmade from teak, you’re not only investing in a timeless, durable product, but also supporting environmentally friendly practices and sustainable forestry. 

At MasayaCo, we take sustainability seriously and are committed to reforestation projects in Nicaragua. We use renewable materials like teak wood in our furniture manufacturing to minimize our impact on the environment. By using eco-friendly materials, we can create functional and beautiful furniture that is sustainably-built and socially responsible.

Maintenance tips

Proper maintenance is essential to ensure that your sustainable furniture lasts for a long time. In this section, we will provide tips on how to properly maintain furniture that’s sustainably-built to ensure its longevity and reduce waste. 

Tip #1: Follow manufacturer's instructions

The first step is to follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Each piece of furniture has unique care instructions, and following them will ensure that your furniture lasts for a long time. 

This may include using specific cleaning products or avoiding harsh chemicals that could damage the furniture.

Tip #2: Clean regularly

Regular cleaning is recommended to maintain your sustainable furniture. Dust and debris can accumulate on furniture and cause scratches or damage over time. 

Cleaning your furniture regularly with a soft cloth or duster will help keep it in good condition.

Additionally, use eco-friendly cleaning products, such as vinegar or baking soda or non-wax furniture cleaners to clean your furniture. Products that are natural and non-toxic, are usually the best and safest methods for the environment and your furniture.

Tip #3: Repair when necessary

When your sustainable furniture becomes damaged or worn, don’t throw it out…repair it. Repairing your furniture can extend its lifespan and reduce waste.

A benefit of wood furniture is that it is usually repairable. If you're not comfortable making the repairs yourself, hire a professional to fix any damage or wear and tear. Light cosmetic marks or dents can usually be sanded out easily with a high grit sandpaper (go lightly) and then applying natural teak oil to the area. Proper care for your furniture will ensure that your furniture is repaired correctly and will last a lifetime. 

Where to buy the best sustainable furniture

There are many options for purchasing sustainable furniture, including local and online retailers. When choosing a retailer, look for those that prioritize sustainability and ethical labor practices. 

MasayaCo is a great example of a brand that meets these criteria. Our furniture is made from sustainably sourced wood, and we prioritize fair labor practices and eco-friendly production methods. When you buy your furniture from MasayaCo you are not only selecting beautiful furniture for your home, but you are also investing in a reforestation project that has planted over 1.2 million trees to date.

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