Is Rattan Furniture a Sustainable Product?

It's a question we're often asked and the answer is a resounding yes! Here I'm going to tell you why...

In this modern world there are so many different materials used in furniture manufacturing with the main ones being plastic and wood. Now, we've all seen the terrible images of "the great pacific garbage patch" and know the problems created by society's over reliance on plastic, be it in straws, chairs, coat hangars or Tupperware so there's not much point in dwelling on the obvious.

Wood on the other hand is the most commonly used material in furniture. We think of it as a sustainable resource and indeed a great deal of wood used in furniture production is FSC or FLEGT certified from sustainable sources however I recently came across this frightening article about Chinese made furniture causing deforestation in Africa. It's always worth checking where your furniture comes from hence the purpose of this post.

What is Rattan?

The Rattan plant is indigenous to the rainforests of south east Asia. It is essentially a climbing vine (a member of the palm family) which requires the trees in order to make it's rapid ascent to the top of the canopy.

Why is it sustainable?

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 it's tree ready to repeat the process. 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.

Not only is Rattan itself a sustainable resource but it also provides a cash crop for those living in the rainforest which actually relies on the preservation of the ecosystem and is an alternative to deforestation for the purpose of agriculture or palm oil production. Plus it makes really beautiful eco-conscious furniture, or at least that's what we think!

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