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3 Tips for Sustainable Shopping

By: Janine Sleem
Lakefront Home - Living room of Palm Beach, FL home with beige tufted sofa, wooden upholstered...
Lakefront Home, Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

1. RECYCLe & Repurpose

Anything new has a carbon footprint, even if it is sustainably produced. Start with existing items that can be adapted or reworked before shopping new. Seek out vintage seating that can be reupholstered or refinished.

Utilize case goods like dressers or tables that can be reconfigured into vanities. Antique accessories can be retrofitted as lighting, and stone that was once a kitchen or bath counter can be salvaged for table tops. Rework excess fabric into pillow and throws. Manufacturers will often have leftover materials that they can sell at discounted rates. Utilize these offerings to reduce the demand on new materials.

2. Follow the paper trail

Look for certifications and awards from industry-recognized third party organizations who have done the research for us, such as LEED, Living Building Challenge, Cradle to Cradle and the Parsons Healthy Materials Lab.

Sustainability is a subjective term, so groups of professionals in the field have developed strict standards for what constitutes a sustainable material. Avoid terms like “natural,” “green,” or “eco-friendly,” and instead look for valid certifications that track the environmental, social and economic impacts of the materials we buy.

Sustainable & Local Samples from Uhuru, Carnegie, and Joseph Carini Carpets

3. Shop local

Nearly one third of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by transportation, including ships, planes, and trucks used to transport furniture and materials across the globe. The sustainability of a product is minimized if it travels a great distance to get to its destination.

Opt for locally produced and procured fabrics and materials, but also consider contracting local vendors, fabricators, and upholsterers for custom projects.

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