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Green home furnishings decay with time

By Chris V. Thangham     May 8, 2008 in Environment
Home furnishing manufacturers are turning green and using biodegradable materials to build furniture and furnishings. When discarded, they decay into their surroundings.
Manufacturers are trying to produce “ready to rot” furniture with biodegradable materials such as wood frames from sustainably managed forests, non-coated nails, organic fabrics and stuffings, and nontoxic dye paints. All these materials will degrade in the environment after they are discarded.
Tim Zyto, chief executive of Montauk, a furniture manufacturer, is pursuing this approach so his company's furniture has as little impact on the environment as possible. He told the New York Times:
And then I started to think, wouldn’t it be great to have no impact? Then it was, hey, what if the sofa just disappears when you’re done with it?
Cradle to Cradle, another furnishing company is doing the same.
Umbra, famous for its furnishing designs by Karim Rashid, is producing furniture out of PLA, a corn-based plastic, so that they will degrade with time.
LoooLo, a Canadian home furnishing company uses organic raw materials for its pillows, blankets, and scarves. Its products are made with Climatex LifeCycle yarns and felts from Switzerland (free from toxic chemicals and non-hazardous by products), organic cotton and Kapok, a fiber from the rain forest in Malaysia. At the end of their usage, they can be thrown into the compost and they will biodegrade within a year.
Not everyone endorses this green furniture, however. Bill Brown, chairman of the English Department at the University of Chicago told New York Times:
Their longevity, in the past, has always been part of the thing that gives them value.
Joel Mackower another critic told NY Times:
You also have to ask, Is it reasonable to assume that a product will go into a system that will allow it to degrade? Is there a snowball’s chance it would be put on a compost pile?
Franklin Getchell, owner of Moss, the gallery-like design store also doesn't believe in green furniture. He told Tree Hugger that many in Milan want expensive furniture and craftsmanship and most of them want to pass it on to later generations. He doubts that green furniture will make a dent in the marketplace.
There may be critics of this technology, but I think green furniture and furnishings are a great idea and do have a place in the market. Many people discard furniture when they move to a new home or location, and in these cases biodegradable furniture seems like a better enviro option.
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