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Is Rattan Furniture Sustainable?

 

 

Is my furniture sustainable?



We’re all keen to be green, and you’ve probably discovered the importance of sustainability when it comes to selecting your furniture. To help you make your sustainable furniture decisions, The Rattan Company [presents a run down of the considerations when buying eco friendly furniture, and our candid assessment of how we’re able to help you do that when you source from The Rattan Company.

The six key elements of sustainable furniture


Most agree that the key elements of sustainable furniture are:

  • The materials used to create the furniture
  • The use of chemicals in its creation
  • The manufacturing process and who it benefits
  • The furniture’s carbon footprint and transportation
  • The furniture’s durability
  • The potential for the furniture to be recycled


Let’s take a look at what sustainability requires, and how we’re able to deliver it at The Rattan Company.

Materials
Most furniture is made of wood, so sustainability considerations usually start there. With wooden furniture, the main concern is whether the furniture is being created from sustainably managed stocks. In short, are the trees being cut down for furniture being replaced. The challenge here is that it takes a long time to grow a tree, and that old trees capture a disproportionate amount of carbon dioxide, so taking them out at all is best avoided.

That means that from a sustainable furniture viewpoint, your best options are recycled and renewable. Recycled furniture takes materials already in use and reuses them, reducing the impact on the environment. Highly renewable materials offer a different route, growing so quickly, or having such minimal environmental impact as to be the material of choice for new furniture.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?

Sustainable materials are at the heart of The Rattan Company, with rattan a particularly sustainable choice. Growing like a weed, it produces the material used for furniture manufacture 7 times faster than a tree produces wood and each vine can grow to a whopping 200m in length! Harvesting is done by hand and the tip of the vine is then re-planted at the base of its tree ready to repeat the process.

Given the importance of trees to growing rattan, where rattan is commercially useful it encourages forest retention. The trees are kept in situ to support the rattan. As a result, choosing rattan is a really sustainable furniture choice.

Check out David Attenborough's speeded up video for BBC Wildlife of a Rattan plant growing in the rainforest. 


Chemicals
This bit is all about VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). These compounds are emitted from certain products used in the production of furniture, especially varnishes and stains used for finishing and sealing. VOCs are particularly nasty characters, with significant negative effects for people and the environment.

To create eco friendly furniture, the use of VOCs should be minimised.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?
With a natural manufacturing process and finish, rattan furniture is again intrinsically eco friendly when it comes to VOCs. VOCs aren’t needed to produce rattan furniture, as the process doesn’t depend on heavy lacquers or staining. It’s another area where rattan furniture is a particularly sustainable furniture choice.

The manufacturing process and the makers
Furniture is more sustainable when the methods used to create it are kind, and the process of its creation helps build communities. While most large manufacturers have their processes geared towards reducing impact, and often carry out laudable corporate social responsibility activities, the real winners in this area are artisan producers using time-honoured techniques on a small scale.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?
The Rattan Company sources its rattan from local farmers, and works with manufacturers close by to create our beautifully designed range. Local farmers are able to produce rattan as a cash crop, reducing their environmental impact while supporting their economy.

The vine is then broken down into various parts by locals, the stem is graded by thickness and the skin is peeled to be used for weaving and tying. Our Rattan furniture is then hand crafted by skilled artisans to whom the knowledge has been passed down across generations resulting in exquisite pieces which are built to stand the test of time.

Transportation and carbon footprint
The further your furniture travels, the greater the environmental impact, essentially. Work should be done to minimise the packaging, weight and travel time of pieces. Where furniture is transported, it should be done in the most efficient way.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?
You can’t source sustainable rattan in a rainforest, and have it produced by local artisans, without eventually shipping it somewhere else. However, The Rattan Company takes care to ship our rattan furniture efficiently, and the carbon footprint of transport is far more than offset by the intrinsic sustainability of the products themselves, which promote carbon capture via intact rainforests, and maintain the craft industries of local communities.

Does it stand the test of time?
To be sustainable, furniture needs to retain its design appeal and remain intact for long enough to justify its creation. A short term use and bin approach is really harmful to the environment. Select pieces that will stand the test of time.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?
The Rattan Company works with designers to create timeless styles that span trends and spaces. A piece of quality indoor rattan furniture will always have a place in your home, whatever the trend and your mood. Artisanal craftsmanship has the benefit of natural durability. The time-honoured techniques are exactly that because they have been shown to last. The Rattan Company works with producers who take no shortcuts in producing furniture that will be in your home and family across generations.

Can the furniture be recycled?
With the environmental cost of sourcing new materials (other than the superbly sustainable rattan, of course), furniture’s capacity to be recycled is increasingly important to its sustainability. Manufacturers should aim to use elements in a way that promotes reuse in future.

How does The Rattan Company stack up?
In the first place, rattan is an intrinsically sustainable material. As we saw, it’s far more sustainable than wood. Therefore, the environmental burden is already greatly reduced. Additionally, the craftsmanship, durability and design of rattan furniture from The Rattan mean that the necessity of recycling is greatly reduced - you’ll be using it as it is for decades. When the time does come to reuse or repurpose, the natural finish of rattan makes it easy to turn into painted wicker furniture, updating your look without impacting the environment.


So is furniture from The Rattan Company sustainable?

By every measure it’s a resounding yes. Whether it’s the super-sustainable rattan itself, the local communities supported in the manufacturing process or the combination of superb durability and timeless design, choosing sustainable furniture from The Rattan Company is choosing furniture that lasts, while helping the planet last too.