Buy Local: Salvaged Wood and Live Edge Furniture

by Keith Lobo

Buy local has become a mantra for many food shoppers concerned about what is in their food and the distance it may have traveled from farm to table. But what about that table? What is it made of and where did it come from? Shoppers are increasingly asking those questions too.

Buying furniture has many potential ramifications for the environment:
• Offshore products have to be shipped long distances, using fossil fuels.
• Pressed wood, used by many manufacturers to reduce costs, is less attractive than solid wood and uses formaldehyde which gasses off into a home for days or even weeks. Do you really want to breath in a product they use in preservation.
• Many assemble-it-yourself pieces sold at national retailers are like fast fashion—designed to look good when you first buy them, not built to last, and ending up as landfill.

Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives when buying new furniture.

Salvaged Wood Furniture

Salvaged wood furniture offers both environmental benefits and one-of-a-kind looks. The wood used in this furniture is reclaimed from old buildings and re-purposed into something new. Barn beams are one example. Century-old barns were made entirely of wood and their large beams are the perfect size for side tables, benches, console tables, and coffee tables.
Barn beam furniture is striking and has proven durability. Plus it adds a rustic elegance to your room.

Live Edge:

Live edge furniture is experiencing a boom in popularity, and why not? In Ontario, live edge is a local industry and, as with reclaimed wood, the products are quite unlike anything you will find in a mass market furniture store. While the wood is not always reclaimed, it is sustainably harvested and usually sourced locally. Be
This type of furniture is immediately identifiable: the “live” edge follows the contours of the original tree and creates a truly unique look.

The “Fine Print”

If you want to ensure your salvaged or live edge product is truly eco-friendly, it pays to read labels and ask questions to learn where the wood came from, how it was harvested, where the artisan is based, and whether low-VOC finishes are used on the wood. Also be sure to verify if the finish will yellow and age over time. Lastly, see if the wood is FSC certified. FSC certification, while not perfect, allows you peace of mind that the process for obtaining your new furniture was sustainable.

As with the food that sustains you, it is important to consider the health and origins of the furniture that surrounds you. Shopping locally is a good place to start.

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