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6 Ways to Shop Responsibly

January 19, 2018

6 Ways to Shop Responsibly


  1. Check that your wood is not contributing to deforestation. Many species of trees used in furniture such as teak, mahogany, elm, oak and rosewood are endangered. While there are sources of these endangered wood species that come from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, you can never be sure as illegal logging is rampant, especially in Southeast Asia where regulation is oftentimes insufficient to protect forests. The world needs more trees, not less. Trees are the lungs of the earth, absorbing carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, keeping the planetary surface cool and moist, prevent soil erosion, provide a habitat for wildlife and other plants and support many people's livelihood. Perhaps the only wood species that you can be certain was obtained from ecologically sustainable sources is the rubberwood which is obtained from rubber plantations. And not from Virgin Rainforests.
  2. Furniture made with reclaimed wood.  If wood is taken care of, it can last a really, really long time. This is especially the case for woods such as teak, mahogany, and elm. So a lot of designers have set out to use wood reclaimed from old furniture and old buildings. Recycling old, traditional wood is a wonderful ecological practice. However, the supply of reclaimed wood is limited and expensive. The Rainforest Alliance has a certification program for reclaimed wood and such wood carries the Rediscovered Wood Certification label. 
  3. Recycled metal and plastic. Metals and plastics are not very ecologically friendly materials. A lot of energy is used to process metals, and plastics are not biodegradable and derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. If you must have furniture made from these materials, seek out those made out of recycled plastic and metals such as recycled aluminum. 
  4. Avoid cheap disposable type furniture if you truly want to be green conscious. These furniture, consisting of panels made of chipboard material, are not durable and often treated as disposable items. Most old furniture discarded in Singapore ends up being incinerated. Pay a little more, buy furniture that is durable and well made. They will last you a lifetime and put less strain on the earth. 
  5. Low-toxicity furniture.  New products such as your new car or newly painted rooms give off the smell of “newness”. That is because they release gas actively. Likewise, furniture made of synthetic materials or treated with synthetic substances can offgas toxic chemicals into the air . Beware of improperly sealed chipboard or MDF wood; they contain toxic formaldehyde. Also look for furniture that is untreated or treated with natural substances, like natural wood finishes, or naturally tanned leather. 
  6. Buy regionally sourced furniture.  Globalization has enabled furniture to be sourced from all corners of the world. The piece of furniture that you like may have had to travel thousands of miles to reach you. Purchasing furniture made from locally or regionally sourced materials is environmentally friendly as it uses up less fossil fuel. It will support the regional economy and decrease the environmental cost of shipping (not to mention the other kinds of cost).




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