As a business owner, how often do you consider your company’s environmental impact during the course of your day-to-day operations? Granted, it probably comes up more often than it used to, largely because consumers are more reluctant to do business with an organization whose core values fail to communicate a respect for the environment.
For businesses, running a ‘green’ company is not as easy as it sounds; for instance, it may be too difficult or too costly to source raw materials that don’t have a negative impact on the earth, or perhaps sourcing local materials is simply impossible, requiring them to be shipped from the other side of the globe. While these factors may be at times unavoidable, there are a number of things that any company can do to make sure their operations are at least in part, green.
Eco-Friendly Office Furniture: Being Green Doesn’t Get Any Easier
If the nature of your business makes it difficult to be as green as you would like to be, there’s no better opportunity to start showing your customers how much you would like to hug the planet than when the time comes to replace your aging office furniture. Finding eco-friendly furniture that is built responsibly using renewable materials these days is pretty easy – and that’s because many furniture manufacturers are responding to the cries of consumers who are tired of the mass-produced, petroleum-based furniture that occupied nearly every office cubicle for decades.
Does Going Green Conflict with Making Green?
Sadly, there is a common misconception out there that implies that in order to be an environmentally-friendly organization, you need to invest a great deal of capital into retrofitting your office, plant, warehouse, or store – and that can mean a negative impact on your bottom line. True, to really become an eco-friendly company, it does take a financial commitment, but that doesn’t mean your company will have to dig itself out of a financial quagmire. In fact, quite the opposite is true; a study conducted after the global showed green businesses recovered more quickly than their non-green competitors and enjoyed growth that exceeded the rest of the industry.
Simply put, consumers are demanding it. Of the 1300 respondents questioned in the study mentioned above, 79% said that offering green products gave them a significant advantage over their competition. But even if you don’t have an eco-friendly product line (because again, the nature of your business may not be amenable to it) consumers will, given the choice, align themselves with a company that has shown to exemplify the same values as they do, everything else being equal. That said, the kind of office furniture you buy can play a big role in communicating those ideals to the consumer.
How to Identify Eco-Friendly Furniture?
If you’re committed to outfitting your office workstations with eco-friendly furniture, it’s important to remember that there’s more to it than simply steering clear of petroleum-based or chemically infused materials.
While many offices are returning to desks made of wood, wood in and of itself should not immediately be considered an environmentally friendly alternative. Solid wood desks are generally built for quality and long-life, but if the lumber used to make it is sold by a company that doesn’t promote sustainable forestry, you may be purchasing a piece of furniture that is doing more harm than good. Alternatively, if the wood does come from an operation that lives and breathes sustainability but comes from a world away, you’d still be leaving a considerable carbon footprint in the form of the fossil fuels consumed to deliver the product to your door.
The simplest way to find a sustainable local operation is to ask a sales representative employed with the furniture manufacturer you’re dealing with. If it’s not local and it’s not sustainable, it’s not green.
Generally, you’ll want to look for furniture that is labeled Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. This non-profit organization ensures the wood used in the manufacturing of furniture (and other goods) is harvested responsibly.
Why Not Take it a Step Further?
If you really want to have an impact on the environment and office furniture is your best way to do so, consider the use of recycled materials to give your office a truly unique look. Many designers have transformed homes and offices into magnificent spaces using materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. In addition to communicating your company’s commitment to the environment, using reclaimed and recycled materials can save you a fortune – which you can then roll over into additional eco-friendly initiatives.