What would you say if we said that we saved 300 plastic bottles from going to landfill for every one Model 04 sofa bed made in eco-velvet? Sounds impressive, right? That’s one of the ways we are incorporating sustainability into the Swyft eco-system. The public conscience is increasingly aware of the ramifications of throwaway furniture. And rightly so. Sustainability is becoming more and more important when making purchasing decisions. Protecting the environment, through a sustainable sofa manufacturing process, has to be at the top of our agenda.
In this blog, we set out why being sustainability is good, what to look out for in a sustainable sofa, and which fabrics are the most eco-friendly for your sofa.
Why is sustainability good?
Actively trying to be sustainable or have sustainability in mind when seeking out new products is good for many reasons. One of those is to protect the environment – to ensure biodiversity and natural resources are preserved for future generations.
Another, is to use resources more efficiently to ensure we meet the demands of a growing population. We don’t have an endless supply of resources, so making sure what we do have is used in a sustainable way is crucial. Lastly, supporting social equality and well-being. Not only is being sustainable good for the environment, but it also has benefits to local communities, who may otherwise be affected by - say- deforestation. And ensuring fair labour by using resources that don't exploit people.
What makes a sofa sustainable?
An eco-friendly sofa follows the same principles as sustainable furniture. To make a sustainable sofa the following areas need to be considered:
- End of life
Materials used in sustainable sofas or furniture are either renewable, recycled or reclaimed. That means that the impact on the environment is greatly reduced. Renewable materials, such as cork, hemp, organic cotton, bamboo and jute – are harvested without harming the tree or regrown within a few years. They are grown without the use of pesticides, and in some cases, are completely biodegradable.
Recycled materials, on the other hand, are made from waste that would otherwise go to landfill or into our oceans. Recycled polyester mainly comes from plastics; recycled leather from leather production waste that is combined with latex and other materials; recycled cotton is usually generated from thrown away clothes. And, recycled foam can is made from scraps off the cutting room floor.
Recycled or reclaimed furniture wood, pallets or scraps of wood are used to create the frames for new sofas and furniture - the same can be said for metals. Did you know: 90% of the wood used to make furniture in the UK comes from forests in Europe. The forests grow by approximately 661,000 hectares a year.
Wood's natural durability and longevity makes it one of the most recyclable materials available to us. In fact, now I come to think of it: A friend, big cycling fanatic, heard that the Manchester Velodrome was being demolished, so he paid a small delivery fee to have the wooden pallets from the velodrome delivered to his home, which he then had installed as flooring throughout his home. A prime example of how wood can be reused, recycled across industries. If there is a will, there is a way.
The manufacturing process can be streamlined to minimise waste and emissions, and adapted to avoid using harmful chemicals.This will help ensure it’s as environmentally friendly as possible.
Building a sustainable sofa is not just about creating a product made from recycled, reclaimed or renewable materials. That’s one part of it. It’s also about creating something that has longevity in mind. Offering a product which has a long lifespan and quality at its core, will reduce the need to replace broken furniture.
At Swyft, our products are handbuilt from talented craftsmen in our workshop in Porto, Portugal. We believe in our craftsmen and in the design, which is why our products come with a 15 year frame guarantee.
Sustainability also involves design. If an element of the sofa does break, how can it be fixed without having to replace the entire sofa.That’s where flat-pack comes in handy. Yes, we hate the word flat-pack because of its negative connotations, but it’s a good thing. The sofas are made in parts that can easily be put together with no tools. So, if an arm breaks, we can replace just the arm. Or if one the Swyft-loks isn’t performing as it should, a replacement Swyft-lok can easily be sent instead of an entirely new sofa.
Creating a well-designed sofa that can have replacement parts sent out easily is more intuitive than replacing the sofa in its entirety. Design is key when it comes to sustainability.
End of life:
What happens to the product when it’s reached the end of life? Being sustainable is about designing a product that can be recycled when the product meets its fatal end. It’s about making sure as little as possible ends up in landfill. For example, the frames are built without glue or staples so the wood can be recycled.
What is FSC Certified?
FSC certified is a certification by the Forest Standards Commission. It marks that a product is sourced with a supply chain that manages and preserves biological diversity. And, it has benefits for the people who live in and around the forest. It guarantees that the sofa has been checked at every stage of the process to ensure the wood used meets strict, environmental, social and economic standards.
In short: an FSC certification is what you need to look out for when buying a sofa, if you want to guarantee it comes from sustainable sources. And, you guessed it: at Swyft, all of our sofas and beds are made with FSC certified woods.
Which fabrics can be used to make a sofa sustainable?
There are a few sustainable fabrics options to choose from, but for the purpose of not boring you death with a list of every single one, we will focus on the below – all of which hold sustainability at their core:
- 100% Recycled Cotton
- 100% Recycled Velvet
- 100% Recycled Wool
The newly launched recycled wool, cotton and velvet are just another brick in the wall of our sustainability venture.
100% recycled cotton is not only made in Spain, but it’s GRS certified. That means, the fabric meets strict social and environmental requirements. It’s a certification which is promoted by the Textile Exchange, with the aim of encouraging the use of recycled materials.
The recycled cotton is treated with a ‘Eco-Elite’ finish, which is a plant-based stain repellent technology that repels water and water-based stains. Do not fear, it doesn’t impact the look or feel of the fabric.Order a swatch box if you don’t believe us.
Our eco-velvet is made from extracts of recycled plastic bottles that were headed for landfill or for our oceans. As mentioned previously, every one metre of fabric is made from thirty 550ml bottles. In short: a Model 04 is made from 300 plastic bottles. Mind blown.
The recycled wool comes from a town in Italy called Prato – famous for producing fabric and garments for the fashion industry. Our wool has recycled yarns that come from the waste produced in production of any clothes that can’t be re-sold. The yarns are hand separated by colour - so no extra dye chemicals are needed or used. With this, the environmental impact of the entire production of the recycled wool has been measured and reduced, including water, energy and C02 consumption levels. Wool also has active fibres that react to changes in body temperature. That means, it’s warm in winter and cool in summer.
If you’re looking for a sustainable sofa - I’d assume that you are, if you’ve made it this far – then I’d highly recommend you keep in mind the above. Living and thinking sustainable-first, is, has to be, the future.