“90% of furniture consumers would choose eco-friendly—so long as they like the style and price. So committing to best practices for sustainability is actually a great way to grow your business.” — Susan Inglis, Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council
Where to Start?
Sustainable design isn’t an all-or-nothing approach; in fact, simply beginning the conversation about sustainable choices can make a big difference, says Susan Inglis, Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC). In short: it’s better to incorporate small steps towards sustainability than nothing at all. Here’s what designers can keep in mind:
Vet Your Vendors
“Consider prioritizing purchases from SFC member companies because each of them have made their own public and verifiable commitment to sustainability,” says Inglis. “Each has a landing page at sustainablefurnishings.org where you can see a ‘snapshot’ of the company’s commitment.” At SFC, you’ll be able to browse companies like Jaipur Living, who are committed to sustainable design practices, or search for specific products such as “rugs” or “sofas.”
Focus on Materials
“80% of the environmental impact of a product is in what it’s made of,” says Inglis. SFC’s Quick Buying Guide outlines some basic questions to think about when getting started. As a general rule, pieces made from recycled and reclaimed materials—like PET indoor-outdoor rugs, which are crafted from recycled water bottles—are good to keep an eye out for. Natural materials—for rugs, think jute, sisal, cotton, or wool—are also a sustainable option. When browsing vendors’ websites directly, look for the ability to filter by these requirements; companies like Jaipur Living offer custom filters for things like material, construction, and in-stock availability.
Another pillar of sustainability is social equity. When vetting potential vendors, consider the social equity of their supply chains, and in the company’s community outreach. “Empowered communities take care of their environments; victimized communities are less able to do so,” says Inglis. Social equity covers a range of issues, from DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) and community development or engagement to fair wages and safe labor practices. Jaipur Living is proud to partner with the Jaipur Rugs Foundation to empower our artisans and the communities they live in through grassroots programs like Bunkar Sakhi, as well as educational opportunities and access to healthcare.
At the end of the day, sustainability is a crucial factor for consumers. “90% of furniture consumers would choose eco-friendly—so long as they like the style and price, of course,” says Inglis. “So committing to best practices for sustainability is actually a great way to grow your business.” Stunning products that are sustainably and ethically made? Now that’s true beauty.