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The State of Sustainability

Furniture World Magazine




In spite of progress Sustainable Furnishings Council members have made, there is still much work to do to improve the state of sustainability in the home furnishings industry.

“When retailers implement strong eco-friendly policies, they drive earth-safe wood sourcing practices throughout their supply chains.”

Today, Nearly 400 SFC Member companies are taking steps to make responsible choices in operations, production and product selection. They also advertise their sustainability policies, announcing them in consumer-facing media to make sure consumers are aware of available eco-friendly options. SFC Member companies include the Member seal with social media widgets on their home pages, and link to SFC landing pages, showing visitors a list of the actions they are taking to address one of the most important issues of our time.

The Sustainable Furnishings Council has two major initiatives that aim to address global warming and pollution issues.

  1. What's It Made Of? This initiative is designed to help home furnishings industry suppliers, manufacturers, and brand marketers to take a close and necessary look at what the materials and products they specify are made of.

  2. The Wood Furniture Score-card: This program encourages furniture suppliers and retailers, large and small, to implement robust, responsible wood sourcing policies. When retailers have strong eco-friendly policies in place, they drive earth-safe wood sourcing practices throughout their supply chains. In so doing, they support healthy and growing forests which may be our greatest hope for reducing CO2 emissions.

Lost Opportunity

SFC member companies are actively engaged in the work of protecting customers by paying attention to their sourcing and chemical output. Many others in our industry, however, lag behind. It's our view at the SFC that managers who ignore this issue through inattention or short-term thinking will ultimately suffer consequences to the health of their own companies and the planet.

It’s impossible to generalize about why such a large group of companies are sitting on the sidelines. We believe that natural disasters and the resulting changes in consumer attitudes will light a fire under corporate managers. According to SFC’s consumer research, 80 percent of furniture consumers are more aware of and concerned about global warming as a result of recent disasters.

Changing Attitudes

The good news is that across industries, business owners say they are more aware of the need for risk mitigation. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season caused more than $250 billion in estimated damages and more than 250 deaths throughout the Caribbean, the southern U.S., and southern Great Plains. The Tubbs, Atlas, Nuns, and Redwood Valley Fires in October 2017 caused 44 deaths, and their combined destruction represented the costliest wildfire event on record. This damage was eclipsed the following year by California's Camp Fire.


It's no secret that we are living through some of the hottest years ever recorded and are fast approaching a situation that will disrupt the lives of our children and grandchildren. Global industries, including ours, carry a huge responsibility to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

We must also do a better job as well of taking responsibility for harmful pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and others that still find their way into our customers' air and water.

Join SFC at High Point

This fall, Cisco Brothers, a company that earned the highest score among all those assessed on SFC's Wood Furniture Scorecard will host a panel discussion on this topic during High Point Market, Saturday, October 19th at 5pm. For more information on this event, call 252-368-1098 or email susan@sustainablefurnishings.org.

When furnishings companies care about sustainability and work to slow climate change, they generate positive change and goodwill in the communities they serve. And what happens at the grassroots level can influence critical environmental policy at state, regional, national, and global levels.

About Susan Inglis: Susan Inglis is Executive Director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, and resident expert with the organization she helped found in 2006. She has led SFC to work with industry leaders to establish criteria to gauge the sustainability of furniture products and practices; develop programs for educating all sectors of the industry; and attract hundreds of companies to membership. For more information call 252-368-1098 or email susan@sustainablefurnishings.org.

Furniture World is the oldest, continuously published trade publication in the United States. It is published for the benefit of furniture retail executives. Print circulation of 20,000 is directed primarily to furniture retailers in the US and Canada.  In 1970, the magazine established and endowed the Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library (www.furniturelibrary.com) in High Point, NC, now a public foundation containing more than 5,000 books on furniture and design dating from 1620. For more information contact editor@furninfo.com.