Sustainability

 What Does Sustainable Furniture Really Mean?

Truly sustainable furniture has a number of different parts. Like the materials the furniture is made from, where they come from, how they are produced, the durability of both materials and the design, and even the price point. It can seem like a lot to consider, so we’ve done the hard work for you, and highlighted why Innate Furniture is a truly sustainable choice.

Timber

The species of timber used for making furniture is perhaps the most important contributor to sustainability. For example, a very commonly used species in New Zealand, especially for decking timber, is Kwila. The problem is that Kwila is primarily logged in West Papua where key rainforests are clear-felled, and indigenous communities are displaced. And even after media coverage and protests, container loads of illegally logged timber continue landing on our shores regularly. See these news articles for more details:

How Decking Timber is Compounding a Human Rights Crisis

Calls for the Felling of Kwila to be Banned

A similar story applies to many other species of timber and we believe they should be banned entirely. This is why we opt for sustainable and ethically sourced timbers only. Our favourites include New Zealand’s Foreverbeech which is harvested on the West Coast of the South Island using some of the most heavily regulated and monitored methods seen on the globe. To see how Foreverbeech is sustainably harvested, click here.

We also use FSC certified plantation pine grown in New Zealand. If we are requested to use other species, we do our research to ensure it is sourced sustainably and ethically.

Coatings

We stay well clear of any chemical-based coating systems such as polyurethanes or lacquers.

Using natural oils and waxes made locally, we can still offer a full range of great-looking colours that are very durable. In fact, natural coatings generally ‘wear in’ rather than wear out, like a leather jacket or old church floor. And the gradual wear and tear becomes a characteristic feature of the timber. This cannot be said for most chemical-based coatings as they require sanding back and re-coating once the wear and tear have damaged the top surface.

By choosing locally-made and natural coatings such as tung oil from the tung nut above, we ensure that our suppliers, our staff, your families and even our wastewater systems are not exposed to petrochemical off-gassing or waste.

Steel

Steel is made from iron ore, and New Zealand has a unique source of it: the black, iron-rich sands on the North Island’s west coast. Sustainability is important in every facet of the New Zealand steel business including environmental, economic, and cultural. Environmentally we have high rates of recycling and reuse, and insistence on using a sustainable supply chain. Economic contribution means NZ Steel puts over $600 million per year into the NZ economy. When you buy $100 worth of steel made in NZ, $80 stays in NZ. When you buy imported steel, around $5 stays in NZ.

The Story of Steel

Packaging

You’ll commonly see furniture wrapped in eco-unfriendly shrink-wrap, polystyrene, or other petrochemical-based materials. These days there are far better biodegradable options, so nearly all of our wrapping is fully compostable such as paper wrap, cardboard, hardboard corners, woollen blankets and hemp rope. Simple stuff, really.

 

Durability

We have all witnessed a decline in the quality of many manufactured goods since New Zealand started importing so heavily from overseas. The endless race for cheap and convenient products has resulted in a trend of disposable furniture; items not intended to last long. This is extremely wasteful, contributing to our ever-expanding landfills, but it’s also poor value for money in the long run. We believe furniture should be prized possessions and handle heavy use in a commercial setting, or be passed down generations.

Keep it local

Simply put, the closer you are to where the goods you consume are manufactured, the less carbon miles are required to transport them to their final home. Importing furniture from overseas is really quite unnecessary. Let’s support our local community and minimise our impact on the planet at the same time.

Please contact us if you have any further questions or suggestions for improving the sustainability of our company. We are always looking to improve and refine our commitment to looking after our customers and the planet.