Sustainable Office FurnitureIn our recent blog articles, The Lean Green Office Machine – Part 4, and The Lean Green Office Machine – Part 3 we briefly discussed the environmental advantages of checking the sustainability of the office furniture you purchase to ensure that you are helping safeguard the environment, conserving energy and reducing waste and pollution. this can seem like a daunting, even unrealistic task, since the more parts there are to a product, the harder it is to keep track of where all the parts came from, how they were made, and what they were made of. However, as a consumer, this simple step to help the environment can be just that: simple. As an environmentally minded group ourselves, we at CubeKing thought we should help. In this article, you will find a bit more detail about how to determine the sustainability of your office furniture.

Sustainable Office Furniture Criteria

  • Whether Your Office Furniture Is Used or New
  • Whether It’s Recycled & How Much
  • Whether It’s Recyclable & What New Products It Makes
  • Ease of Assembly & Disassembly
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Quality & Durability
  • Cradle to Cradle Certification (C2C)
  • LEED Certified Manufacturing

Whether Your Office Furniture Is Used or New

If you buy used office furniture, you’re helping the environment because no additional energy is going into making a new product, and because you are at least postponing the disposal of waste. Chances are also good that if you deemed it worthy to purchase, your office furniture is made from durable high quality materials to have lasted after prior use. By the same token, your office furniture becomes more sustainable when, instead of throwing it out, you resell it to another user after you’re done to keep the usage going. CubeKing, America’s number one office furniture discounter, buys and sells office furniture nationwide and will handle all aspects of your office furniture liquidation.

Whether It’s Recycled & How Much

When you buy office furniture made out of recycled materials – plastics, wood, particle board, glass, etc – you’re helping the environment in a way that’s similar to when you buy used office furniture: the materials take less energy to recycle than to manufacture from scratch. Higher percentages of recycled materials mean more energy conserved.

Whether It’s Recyclable & What New Products It Makes

Consider buying office furniture that is not only made from recycled materials but is also recyclable in itself. (There is a difference.) An important aspect in determining an office furniture product’s recyclability after its use is the degree to which it was designed for assembly and disassembly, so that the recyclable parts can easily be separated. Sometimes you can also see on the parts themselves whether they are recyclable. If not, you can always check with the manufacturer. Keep in mind that just because your office chair’s parts may be recyclable, it doesn’t always mean that the parts are remade into the same, new office chair. It’s likely that they will be recycled into components of several other products, some of which may be recycled again, others that may not. Finding out whether these end products are recyclable can help you determine the longevity of your sustainable office product.

Ease of Assembly & Disassembly

If you can’t break it down again, how will it be recycled? Also, if it’s not easy to put together again, it’s not going to be as  attractive to another user. Try to find office furniture that is easy to assemble and disassemble.

Materials Chemistry

Materials chemistry uses numerous human and environmental health criteria to evaluate the chemical makeup of products and production processes at the molecular level in order to identify and eliminate toxic and/or environmentally harmful chemicals. It’s a scientific examination of the composition of your office furniture product. This information may be available from the manufacturer.

Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) assess whether your office furniture contributes to global warming and pollution, measuring the environmental impact of your office furniture’s materials, production, and reuse, and/or disposal. It takes into account some of the other factors discussed and boils them down to green numbers.

Quality & Durability

Sustainability also implies that your sustainable office furniture is going to be around for a long time. Buying durable office furniture models can help ensure that. High quality also takes into account the aesthetic aspects of your office furniture, and should be another factor that helps you make a good environmentally minded decision. The reason? Your office furniture could be made from material as durable as titanium, but if it’s ugly, it probably won’t enjoy a reuse.

Cradle to Cradle Certification

The reward for passing stringent third party validation, research and tests done by experts such as McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC)  who measure your office furniture product’s impact on the environment. C2C products purchased also award your company a Design and Innovation Credit under the US Green Building Council’s LEED™ rating system.

LEED™ (Leadership in Energy Efficient Design) Certified Manufacturing

This rating system, associated with industrial office buildings and places of manufacture, will help you know that your office furniture product was put together in an environmentally friendly process that took place in an environmentally friendly building, most likely by environmentally friendly people like yourself.

We hope this criteria checklist helps when it comes to making the right, environmentally friendly decision about your office furniture and other products. Remember, buying office furniture from a trusted, knowledgeable resource with a broad range of new and used furniture to choose from is a quick, easy way to find out a lot of the above information. So you can find the furniture you want, for the right price, and feel even better knowing that you just helped the environment.Resources: 

Steelcase did a great job of examining ways to make C2C, environmentally friendly and sustainable office furniture. Click here to read their guide to green “huggability”.

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