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Office Life

9 Ideas for Making Your Office Furniture More Sustainable

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Jeff Gapinski

Office meeting room with large table and black office chairs.

Where there’s convenience, there’s often waste and harmful environmental effects. Just like fast fashion, fast furniture is also taking a toll as cheaper, flimsier couches, tables, and chairs end up in the landfill more often than their sturdier counterparts. 

As we return to the evolving hybrid office or spruce up our trusty home offices, let’s be mindful of sustainable sources and practices to continue greening our workspaces. Here are a few ideas for creating or sourcing sustainable office furniture options.

Take advantage of reseller marketplaces

Where possible, buy used! Neighbor-to-neighbor reselling networks like Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Facebook Marketplace are full of used furniture that need a new home. With a little luck, you’ll get a deal and save another piece of furniture from the trash heap.

Upcycle office materials

One way to build team chemistry and drive home the importance of sustainability in your office is to build furniture together. An easy beginner-friendly project could be repurposing wooden crates into storage units. See if you can make a connection with another local business that usually disposes of their crates and then follow instructions from a source like The Shabby Creek Cottage.

Try a Herman Miller Aeron Chair

It’s not always possible to find exactly what you need from a reseller (especially when you need it). That’s why we’ve also compiled a few well-known brands that are doing their best to create furniture with sustainable materials and practices. Herman Miller is known for their award-winning innovative design. What you might not know is that their popular Aeron Chair is now a lot more sustainable. 

According to the company, “We updated the Aeron Chair, adding ocean-bound plastic to the body—all without compromising what makes it the best work chair on Earth.”
Learn more about the Aeron Chair here.

Check out West Elm’s sustainable and FSC-certified furniture

Along with the Wayfairs and IKEAs of the world, West Elm is a common option for modern furniture. What sets them apart, though, is their commitment to fair trade and sustainability. 

According to Global Green Family, West Elm’s furniture is “GREENGUARD Gold Certified, and their mid-century style desks are made ethically in Vietnam and India using FSC-certified wood and water-based coatings.” 

In the past, the company has even collaborated with the Pratt Design Incubator on a line of sustainable office furniture including the desk featured above. We could easily see it as the centerpiece in your home office or a new upgrade to the hybrid spaces you’re designing to allow more collaboration in your traditional office.

Shop all of West Elm’s sustainable and FSC-certified furniture here.

Add in a bamboo chair mat

We all love a chair that rolls, but not all of our living spaces were created with rollability in mind. Rather than using plastic to improve your sustainable office chair’s range of motion, try bamboo! 
According to Haiku designs, not only is bamboo more attractive, but it’s also more durable than common plastic mats. Learn more about their collection here.

Brighten up your common area with Fully Furniture

Fully is a Certified B Corp that holds itself to high standards not only in its sustainable sourcing but also in its team culture. Want more details on those principles? Check out their most recent sustainability report, and then check out their poufs and chairs.

With a design “inspired by lotus leaves,” the nola pouf is perfect for a hybrid office that needs more modular seating options. Made out of polyester melange yarn, they’re “durable, easy-to-clean, and perfect for furniture used in high traffic areas.” This means you’ll have it longer, reducing your office’s lifetime footprint.

Get organized with eco-friendly filing cabinets

With less files comes less cabinets, but there are still some industries that require a paper trail, and for them, a natural walnut cabinet is the way to go. Eco Friendly Digs not only makes quality office furniture that lasts, but they also plant one tree for every purchase! 

In addition to being GREENGUARD Certified, this cabinet maker has been awarded Silver Exemplary Membership Status by the Sustainable Furnishings Council. Find more eco-friendly digs here.

Add a decorative touch with Hook & Loom rugs

Hook & Loom aims to “Protect the Planet [and] Flatter your Floor.” Their process includes creating colored yarns from recovered textile fiber, handweaving, and leaving out harmful dyes, chemicals, and latex. 

Shop rugs for your home office here.

Add some fun and style with office accents

For office basics, we’ve already compiled a list of eco-friendly office supplies we love, but if you’re looking for some ethically-made office accents to add some fun and style to your space, try Minna. They are “a tight-knit team of artists, creators, and thinkers” who believe in “creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good.”

Find some of their fun office objects here.

Return to the office with sustainability in mind

The return to the office offers yet another opportunity to commit your workplace to green principles and practices. What ways are you incorporating sustainability as you get back to work? We’d love to hear your ideas on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn!

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Jeff Gapinski

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