Sustainable Design Series - FSC Wood for an Eco Friendly Home
When it comes to eco friendly products in the design and build industry there are a thousand labels out there telling you about their product. What do they mean and are they just greenwashing us? In this first part of an ongoing series we’ll be exploring eco friendly wood, what FSC-certification is about and why it matters when making your home more green and sustainable.
For sustainable design and build products that help create a green home, wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) is one of the best eco friendly options. FSC wood is not only a raw building supply, but also used in furniture (both inside and out), accessories and even paper products.
From high end furnishings to retail furniture to wallpaper, I have the scoop on what it means to carry the FSC certification and where to get the best sustainable design and build FSC-certified products for your eco friendly design project.
What You Should Know About Eco Friendly FSC-Certified Wood
When creating a green and sustainable home design, FSC-certified wood products are a great eco friendly option. Getting the Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC) label not only helps keep forestry sustainable, but it also promotes global equity.
Did you know that wood from illegally harvested and trafficked wood can account for between 15 to 30 percent of wood harvested worldwide? When ancient forests face extinction, excessive logging, and clear-cutting, climate change is exacerbated.
If you are looking to buy furniture or other wood-based building products you can do your best to find pieces that are sustainably harvested, but how do you know if that company is greenwashing their marketing plan to turn a higher profit?
The Forest Stewardship Certification helps consumers take the guesswork out of whether or not the wood used for a product is ethically harvested. To carry the FSC label businesses have to meet ten forest operation principles.
Some of these principles include:
Compliance with local forestry laws and international treaties
Social and economic wellbeing of workers
Preserving Indigenous peoples’ rights
High biodiversity conservation values
By their own definition “FSC forest management certification confirms that the forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.”
So in other words, they promote ecology, workers rights, and equity. All values that I can get behind. And on top of all of that, the forests have to be independently inspected for compliance.
Why does the FSC Label Matter?
As the eco-friendly trend becomes more popular and in demand more companies are going to claim that their products are sustainable as a marketing catch phrase (aka Greenwashing) to make money instead of truly committing to sustainability and ethical values. If you are someone (like me) who wants to know where a company's values stand, having the FSC-certification to demonstrate your commitment to equity and climate change makes all the difference.
Smart and Stylish Furniture With the FSC-Certification
Sustainability within the interior design industry has become more popular and finding furniture that is made green by using ethically harvested wood is more accessible than ever. Here are my top choices for furniture and other interior decor items that are all made from wood that is FSC-certified.
Six Retail Brands Practicing Sustainable Design With FSC Products
West Elm is one of the most Googled furniture stores out there. With over one hundred brick and mortar shops globally I was surprised to learn that fifty two percent of the wood used to make their furniture is FSC wood.
Dims. - A direct to consumer furniture manufacturer of clean, modern, scandinavian style, that sources all of their Ash wood from forests that are FSC certified. Not only is the wood eco friendly but the finishes and adhesives are as well, earning them a Greenguard Certification to boot.
Crate & Barrel - The furniture collection by Crate & Barrel has featured renewable woods and sustainable materials for a number of years now. A selection of the wood used to craft their outdoor, dining and home office collections is certified by the FSC.
CB2 - Crate & Barrel’s more modern offshoot has a number of furniture pieces that have been manufactured with FSC. I particularly love their this black canopy Oslo bed as well as their Claude Cane & Leather dining chairs.
Ikea - Ikea is one of the largest furniture store chains globally - as of June 2019, there are 433 IKEA stores operating in 52 countries. At one point Ikea used 1% of the lumber harvested worldwide in a year so it’s good to know that by the end of 2020, they aim for all of their wood to come from sustainable sources including FSC certified and recycled wood. As of now, all of the products made with acacia wood are FSC compliant.
Williams Sonoma Home - While Williams Sonoma is primarily known as a culinary company, they also have a home division. West Elm and Pottery Barn are both owned by Williams Sonoma and have the same basic principals. Williams Sonoma is on the higher end of the three. All of the products made with European birch wood are FSC-certified which includes their line of made-to-order side chairs.
Seven Luxury Sustainable Design Furniture Sources With FSC Products
Bolia - This Scandinavian company is inspired by nature and partners with designers worldwide. Their pieces are amazing and are custom made with some of Europe's best manufacturers. I honestly can’t get enough. The vast majority of their wood is FSC-certified and their furniture and manufacturing partners all hold multiple great certifications such as BSCI, OEKO-TEX and STANDARD 100.
Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams - Is another great example of designers who have made strides to change manufacturing processes to preserve the earth's resources. When they began building furniture in North Carolina back in 1989, Mitchell read a NYT article identifying North Carolina’s furniture industry as one of the environment's biggest abusers. They set out on a mission to change that and sourced healthier alternatives that included their water-based foam. One hundred percent of their wood is FSC-certified. They are one of many companies that is part of the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC).
Cisco Home - As a founding partner of the Sustainable Furniture Council (SFC) and with a commitment to creating furnishings with sustainability in mind, Cisco Home has been part of green interior design for some time now. They only use FSC-certified wood and make sure all of their organic materials have proper documentation. Their pieces are handcrafted in Los Angeles and are made to last a lifetime.
ABC Home - ABC Home has a wide variety of beautiful home goods that are not exclusive to interior designers. They have made a commitment to “support continuous improvement in minimizing our collective environmental footprint and maximizing social justice.” While they only have a handful of pieces that are FSC certified, they have been recognized industry-wide for their green practices and are working to manufacture and carry brands sustainability made.
Verellen - Founded in Belgium and then refined in North Carolina, all of Verellen’s pieces are made to order. Coming from their roots, Verellen uses beautiful and sustainable Flax upholstery among others. Their upholstered pieces have FSC-certified frames to support their non-toxic soy based cushions.
Mattiazzi - An Italian brand that was founded by the Mattiazzi Brothers forty years ago. From the beginning they have been dedicated to sustainability. All of their wood is FSC-certified and they practice low energy manufacturing that is offset by their own solar power and even use the wood byproduct as heating in the winter. Their Osso chair was given a furniture design award from the FSC in 2019.
Gus* - While Gus* Modern doesn’t market their sustainability; they have a good amount of upholstered furniture pieces that have the FSC-certification. Additionally some of their pieces are made with an eco-friendly synthetic-down, derived from recycled PET plastic.
Sustainably Designed Wallpaper Printed on FSC-Certified Paper
Woodchip & Magnolia - This bold, nature inspired wallpaper is covered in floral patterns and other nature based canvases that echo the English landscape’s flora and fauna. They are not only a wallpaper company but also a textile house and have a traditional English inspired line of furniture. One reason to love their company is their Eco Manifesto published on their website. Their wallpaper & fabric are both made to order in Lancashire, England. Because of this there is minimal waste and no need for stockhouses that demand natural resources to keep running. They use water-based inks which makes for a healthy working environment for their printers as they won’t breathe in the toxic solvents used in many printing houses. Every one of their wallpapers is printed on FSC-certified paper. There are just so many reasons to love their products.
Farrow & Ball - In my last post I featured the amazing paint that Farrow & Ball formulates. Their wallpaper is equally amazing and just as eco friendly. With 57 designs in their wallpaper line there is a wide variety of styles that range from graphic prints to traditional patterns in an assortment of their high pigmented colours. Instead of using ink they use their own water-based paints that are not only made with their rich colours but also low VOC. Their wallpapers are both FSC-certified and also vegan plus their manufacturing has been recognized by a variety of awards for their environmentally responsible practices.
Cope - For beautiful, minimal, hand crafted home textiles and wallpapers, Cope is a husband-wife luxury brand based in Brooklyn that “draws inspiration from nature, science and the arts to bring unique expressions of essential forms into the home”. Their Instagram feed is filled with posts that are excellent at visually communicating the inspiration for their products. With wallpapers all printed on clay-coated, FSC-certified paper and all made here in the US, they are a lovely example of green craftspeople. Why clay-coating? Traditionally, printers have used clay-coated paper to enhance color but now many papers are instead coated with environmentally damaging synthetic coating materials.
Kate Zaremba Company - For people who are wanting a more fun, modern, and colorful aesthetic check out the Kate Zaremba Co. Some of her graphic patterns make me think of a modern day and more feminine Matisse painting. Their wallpaper has a lightweight adhesive that even a renter can use as it can be pulled off and the glue residue can be wiped down. Like Woodchip & Magnolia, these papers are made to order and you can request custom designs or illustrations. If you live in the Washington DC area, you can take one of her in-person workshops that can show you how to hang wallpaper, make patterns or join in on a Drawing Night for an informal sketch session.
Maya Romanoff - This company is known for their elaborate artisan wallpapers which include glass beads, gold leaf, and textiles for the walls of a luxury household. All designs have been made in their Chicago facility for more than 50 years. Their new and more sustainable wallcovering line, Ajiro, is an eco-friendly option where micro-thin wood veneer is applied to paper backing. The wood is cut so thin it can be used to wrap columns and corners.
Sustainable Design Example - Kitchen & Bath Cabinets By Kerf Design
For a Mid Century modern feeling kitchen that is also eco friendly, Kerf, builds custom cabinets with FSC-certified plywood. Plywood is a material that you have to be careful with as much of it has high VOC’s (including formaldehyde) that can offgas into your home. With Kerf cabinets you can rest assured that your home can be both stylish and healthy. Their portfolio showcases three kitchens for Eichler designed homes that are the perfect combination of Mid Century architecture updated with modern layouts and cabinets that work for a present-day home.
As I write this, I, like many other Americans, am working from home while the coronavirus pandemic is still going. Cleaning my floors has been a daily task as my kids spill and my dog sheds. This has made it clear that having good quality flooring is really important for sustainability since it uses so many natural resources.
Sustainable, FSC-certified flooring isn’t limited to hardwood flooring only. It also includes cork flooring, which is a finish I personally love. We have it in our kitchen and it’s soft on the feet, easy to clean and a warmer temperature than hardwood and other flooring.
Most flooring stores will carry FSC-certified products, it’s a matter of you being a conscious consumer who looks at the labels and asks about the source of the materials. I am an advocate for any consumer to look locally first for any product to help keep those businesses going (especially now). Below are two manufacturers where you can find where their products are carried near you.
Mannington - Engineered hardwood flooring used to be something that many designers turned their noses up at but with the advancement of technology these floor options look better than ever. Additionally, they use less wood than hardwood flooring and Mannington’s floors are low VOC so consumers, manufacturers and installers don’t have to breathe in harmful fumes. They also use a high amount of recycled content for the inner levels of the planks plus have almost 3½ acres of solar panels on their manufacturing roofs. To find a retailer near you use their Store Locator.
Tesoro Woods - This flooring manufacturer has been creating sustainable hardwood flooring for more than twenty years. They are committed to green flooring options that include FSC-certified hardwood, reclaimed hardwood and use non-toxic adhesives. You can find a dealer on their website’s Dealer Location page.
Kahrs - A Swiss manufacturer of wood and vinyl flooring and I have to say, I’m mad over their chevron pattern. Kahrs has a great variety of colors and styles of hardwood and vinyl floors for all types of homes. Kahrs is a company that works with multiple organizations including the FSC to help work towards sustainable reforestation. The majority of their raw materials are from Sweden “where forests have grown in volume by 60% over the last 100 years”.
Two Luxury, Eco Friendly Door Manufacturers
Front doors tell a story about the home they are featured on. A good door, interior or exterior, will not only look good but also partner well with the architectural style of the home that it is married to. Investing in new doors is helpful for reducing your carbon footprint as they will help regulate the temperature and will not fail after a few years.
The manufacturers listed below are carried nationwide here in the US and you can find who carries them by using their Where to Buy tool on their website.
Kolbe - This company makes stunning luxury doors and windows and has an impressive portfolio of both modern and traditional styles for both. You can find large scale sliding doors for a coveted open air indoor/outdoor space or find beautiful windows and doors with traditional framing and paneling.
TruStile - A green door supply resource, TruStile, a Marvin owned company, has beautiful interior doors for the discerning home. Each door is made to order to the client’s specifications. They even have a door design tool on their website so you can design the perfect door for your home. The wood they source is FSC-certified and their MDF doors are 69% post consumer recycled content. And the icing on the cake is their low VOC adhesives and primer.
Interesting and everyday FSC-Certified Sources
For eco friendly greeting cards, wrapping paper and other papers, the fun FSC-certified products created by Paper Source are a good way to say hello to your friends.
Need a new Bullet Journal? Check out Dingbats*. All of their notebooks carry the FSC label. Additionally, their cover is made from a biodegradable faux-leather and are manufactured in factories where water and air emissions are strictly controlled. Not only do these journals have lovely animals on them but Dingbats* donates 2% of UK revenues go to WWF-UK.
After you get your new Dingbats* bullet journal, you can head on over to Faber-Castell for FSC-wood writing and art pencils. The hardest part for me is deciding on which set to pick!
Montessori Supplies - Are you homeschooling your kids and needing a better setup? Check out Kohburg for Montessori style classroom furniture and supplies.
Cooking and Gardening - Just like their furniture, Williams Sonoma’s Ash wood is FSC-certified. Their website is set up so that if you search “FSC” you will get a wide variety of their products. From servicing utensils, to Bamboo dinner plates, to raised planters, they have a great assortment of FSC-certified products.
Kitchen Paper Products - The brand “If You Care” can be found in any health food store and even at some large chains as well. Their entire line is FSC-certified, unbleached and their packaging is printed with vegetable-based ink.
Iowa based Green Building Supply is a company that carries a wide variety of eco friendly products including flooring, paints, cleaners and other home goods. Their helpful website, high standards and building knowledge and aligned values gives me confidence that their products are trustworthy.
When it comes to sustainable design materials there are a wide variety of options available. Forest Stewardship Certified wood is just one of the ways you can ensure you're getting an ethical product and help invest in sustainability and the circular economy. We’ve listed a handful of green building materials, sustainable home decor and a bee barn (LOL, do you need more than that?) but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the land of sustainable design.
If you want to know more or have questions about eco friendly furniture, finishes or services? Let us know in the comments and it could possibly be included in our Sustainable Design Series.
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