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Conscious consumption:
Sustainable furniture

Sustainable and environmentally friendly materials are becoming increasingly important in the furniture industry. Consumers are also recognizing the environmental impact of furniture production and are looking for sustainable alternatives. But how can you actually recognize sustainable furniture? And what can you look out for when buying furniture?

Domestic wood production instead of cheap tropical wood

Sustainable furniture companies use materials and raw materials that are particularly durable and are produced under environmentally and socially responsible conditions. When it comes to wood as a raw material, care is taken to use wood from sustainable, European production and to avoid using tropical wood. In this way, the global threat to our forests from illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest, Indonesia or the forests of Siberia can be stopped. The use of tropical wood, such as teak or mahogany, is problematic not only for ecological but also for social reasons, as the wages of woodworkers are low and working conditions in the countries of origin are usually poor.

Solid wood – durable, long-lasting and recyclable

The use of solid wood instead of glued-together plywood is an important feature of the sustainable furniture industry. Compared to chipboard, the use of solid wood is characterized by higher quality, durability and stability. In addition, toxic paints and plastics can be avoided, thus increasing the recyclability of the wood. By focusing on quality, durability and reusability, less waste is produced, which would otherwise be caused by numerous disposable pieces of furniture from cheap furniture stores. This is because the higher the quality and durability of a product, the less often it has to be produced in the first place.

Harmful substances such as formaldehyde, which has been classified as carcinogenic by the WHO, are largely avoided in sustainable furniture products. The wooden surfaces are usually treated with natural oils or waxes and the glues and adhesives used in wooden products are free of harmful substances.

Sustainable furniture from small companies instead of large furniture stores

Sustainable, local furniture companies can help to reduce the environmental impact of furniture consumption and promote local value chains. Consumers can also make their contribution in the future by choosing second-hand furniture and sustainably produced furniture more often.

Sustainable furniture companies such as Grüne Erde have been a prime example of environmentally friendly, socially fair and economically successful furniture production for decades. Furniture, mattresses, textiles and other products are produced locally at three Austrian locations. The natural wood furniture company Team7, the specialist bed store LaModula and the Swiss stone pine bed manufacturer Die Koje from Vorarlberg are just a few of the many model companies that have already established themselves in the field of sustainable furniture production.

Second-hand and self-made furniture as sustainable alternatives

If you use second-hand goods, you can protect the environment, save tons of waste and find very individual pieces of furniture. You can buy sustainable, high-quality and cool furniture via online platforms such as Willhaben or in local iconic vintage stores such as Vintagerie, Indigo Express, Bananas or Glasfabrik in Vienna. By buying second-hand or vintage furniture, you are not only saving money, but also a lot of resources and energy, thus actively contributing to climate protection.

Do-it-yourself and upcycling furniture is also becoming increasingly popular and many people are busy crafting in their own homes. If you build furniture yourself, refurbish old furniture or reuse recycled materials, you can avoid a lot of waste and create unique and creative items. To build your own furniture, you usually only need the right tools and the right ideas to start your first furniture project.

Sustainable labels of approval in the furniture industry – which ones are there?

In the furniture industry, as in other sectors, there is no “the one and only label” of sustainability. There are several labels  that stand for different sustainability criteria. Some well-known examples are listed here:

  • A common and recognized label from Germany is the Blue Angel, which is an eco-label awarded to environmentally friendly products and services.
  • In addition to the Blue Angel, there is also the Austrian Ecolabel, the European Ecolabel and the Nordic Ecolabel within the EU.
  • The FSC® label is a globally recognized seal for wood products and paper.
  • Another well-known label is PEFC, an international forest certification system that stands for wood and paper from predominantly sustainable forestry.
  • You can find a good overview of all relevant quality labels in the furniture sector here.


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