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Lately, furniture has gone the way of fashion. It’s become fast, it’s become trendy, it’s become the type of thing that is here one day, loved and cherished, and out the door the next when the season changes.
When did that happen? When did transience come into our homes? I’m not saying that you should hold on to Grandmas ugly coffee cups forever, but a wardrobe, a sofa - these are things that should be made to last. Also things that generate serious amounts of waste, first in the production stage, and then later as you discard them.
Maybe in times of Covid, we have the chance to take a good hard look at what we bring into our homes and re-evaluate what we would like to have in there, what we want to live with and how we want to live with it.
This is a tricky question, because if you buy furniture to last, you have to think about the choices you make and how these choices evolve over time. - Maybe also think about what happens if you change houses.
As the fabulous Sarah Wilson wrote in her blog on sustainable sofas:
“I don’t want to be the person chucking out a cheap sofa after three years.I want to be the person who proudly holds on to it, allows stories to attach to it, has it in her life as a familiar totem and who can pass it on in 30 years to a loved one.”
Well said Sarah!
Consider going second hand.
Think about which shape suits your needs
Choose the right upholstery for your lifestyle
Identify your taste and favourite objects over time
Make informed choices about the materials used in the sofa
Buy from a trusted seller
Take all the time you need for this important decision
The first option of course is to get a sofa second hand. This is clearly and simply the best option if you would like to do the planet some good. No additional resources are used, any toxins that might have been in it, such as fire retardants, preservatives, formaldehyde, are long gone. Sure, second hand is not everybody’s cup of tea, but here you go, in all honesty, this would be the most sustainable option.
How do you like to use your couch? Is it a relaxation island for the whole family? How would you like to sit on it, deep, straight, lying down? How big or high should it be, not only for the room you are currently buying it for, but also for possible future homes. Think about the corridor or window it will have to pass through, how will that work? Are you allergic against dust, if so, consider buying a sofa with feet, so you can clean underneath and behind it regularly.
Do you have kids? Do you like to have a snack or a glass of red wine on your sofa? Think about removable covers, at a minimum for the seating and the backrest cushions. Think about the colour and textile, will it really be white suede leather?
What is your innate style, what kind of objects have accompanied you over time, and what colours were always your favourites? Think about something you would like even 30 years from now. Think about timeless shapes, not fashion, trust your gut feeling.
Be aware that most industrially made sofas are impregnated with chemicals several times. There may be fire retardants, that can be heavily toxic. When furniture comes from overseas, they are often impregnated against travel damage. Polyurethane foams may contain CFC gasses, and also pay attention to the glues used. All of these chemicals evaporate in your home over time.
Natural is best, but be sure that textiles are what they seem. Many textiles used in furniture are made out of mixed materials that contain polyester or nylon. Be aware also that textiles like Viscose, though natural, undergo heavy chemical treatment. Also, some materials may be bleached, this is done using tons and tons of drinking water. Leather should be mineral or vegetal dyed - and not in the classic dying process that is done with chrome - a toxic heavy metal. Also, often so called stain-resistant fabrics are treated chemically to make them so.
Make sure wood in the sofa is sourced from sustainable grown forests. A good label to look out for is the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label that ensures that trees are sourced in a way that responsibly manages timber. Also, pay attention if anything you buy contains plywood, as, here again, you may find chemicals and toxins.
Few sofas are made totally without plastic, as about 30-40 kg inside them are polyurethane foam. So you will be hard pressed to find a completely plastic-free sofa. We at D3CO biosofa are, to our knowledge, are he only ones doing completely plastic-free sofas at this time. Should you go for a standard sofa with plastic parts, make sure they are from recycled sources, or, at the least, nylon or polypropylene and thus 100% recyclable. Also, take care, even when you read “natural latex”. There are several types of latex foams, and the majority do contain plastic, only the 100% natural latex comes with a special certification.
Buy from a trusted seller, a seller who gives you guarantees and who will take care of your object over time. A trusted seller will be able to get the same textile for you again, should you need a replacement. They will also be able to replace parts should need be, a tired metal spring, refill a feather cushion. And finally they will provide you with information about how the sofa is made, so that you truly own it in all its parts.
Do they have eco-certifications? Are they transparent in their processes? Do they source from local providers? Do they respect your individual wishes? Do they produce in-house, or do they outsource abroad? How do they control their production?
Take your time ! You are buying an object that will be a life-companion. So what if you need to mull it over for a while? The joy of having something that is worth being in your home will be all the greater.