Everyone needs furniture.
But, the furniture industry has a massive environmental impact. The vast majority of furniture made today is made from timber, steel, foam, polyester and other carbon-intensive materials.
Plus, it’s bulky and heavy to ship, adding footprint just getting it to your home. It seems obvious too that the bigger the item, the bigger the footprint.
Unlike the hardwood heirlooms of two centuries ago, most furniture produced today will simply end up in landfill in our lifetime, where it will be burned or rot down. Either way, it will release even more greenhouse gases. In fact every year, the average Australian household discards up to 24KG of furniture waste, of which non-recyclable items like laminates make up the majority.
At Beach & Wood we aim to flip the switch on furniture’s footprint.
We take rattan vine, which is a fast-growing carbon trap, and amplify it into a positive force for climate action. Using rattan, we make robust & timeless furniture designed to last for generations.
We then arrange for new trees to be planted for every item purchased – and the bigger the item the more impact our customers can generate.
Fundamentally, we believe that designing your home interiors with Beach & Wood should enable reforestation, atmospheric carbon reduction and the elimination of waste from fast furniture. Basically, the exact opposite of ‘normal’ furniture.
That’s our goal, and we are well on the journey. There’s still more to do to achieve our vision.
Take a look at our progress across various areas below.
Here's what we're already doing
Fast furniture is like Fast Fashion, just a lot heavier!
We think it’s irresponsible to design items that will look dated 10 years from now. All our pieces are designed by our team in Australia to be timeless.
The goal is to create generational items that are handed down from one family to the next, the way it used to be.
Rattan is not timber. It’s a fast growing palm vine, native to rainforests in places like Indonesia.
That means that no trees are cut down to harvest the raw materials, in fact rattan needs the support of mature trees to climb.
It grows quickly, and without needing additional water, fertiliser, or pesticides. It’s a bit like bamboo in that regard, except it’s solid, which makes the resulting woody material a more effective carbon trap.
Finally it can be worked by hand, with little power requirements.
It truly is a more sustainable option.
‘Sustainable furniture’ usually uses timber from FSC-Certified managed forests. Much better than the alternative, for sure.
But no matter which way you cut it, that’s still trees being chopped down. Even fast-growing Radiata pine takes 25 years to reach maturity.
Trees are widely regarded as being one of nature’s most effective carbon traps. So, is it really in our interests to cut them down? We don’t think so.
Our plan is quite the opposite. With Furniture For Forests, we plant new native trees with every item we make (remember, we don’t take any in the first place).
And, we’re flipping the switch again. Everyone else says the bigger the item, the bigger the footprint. We say, the bigger the item the bigger the impact.
Every item on the store has a Tree Stamp which tells you how many trees will get planted via our partners at Ecologi with each item you buy.
Go crazy, furnish your whole house in rattan and know a
small forest is springing up in your name!
Just like Fast Fashion – Fast Furniture has a massive overproduction problem.
One of the fundamental principles of operating sustainably is that we don’t make (a lot) more than we sell. That means we don’t harvest more vine than we need, and we don’t ship products that nobody wants, especially the bigger items.
For that reason, many of our more exclusive and larger items are made to order. We make them specifically for you.
There is so much more we’re actively working on. Check it out!
We are working on a lot of things here – not just our own footprint, but yours too.
We aim to be Carbon Neutral across our business by 2024. This involves:
- Working with our factory partners on understanding their production footprint
- Exploring low footprint Ocean Freight and offsetting the rest (unfortunately there are no rattan weaving skills here in Australia, nor a domestic industry for cutting the rattan vine that does grow in far North Queensland)
- We want to amplify the amazing properties of rattan and engineer furniture a brand that enables Carbon to be extracted from the air. We are exploring a range of carbon sequestration projects with the aim of being Climate Positive by 2027.
- Our Biggest Goal of all is to enable purchasing our furniture to make your life carbon neutral too. We’re currently looking at ways we can offset the average Australian’s carbon footprint based on the items you order. We’re at least 12 months out from making that happen, but to us, making a positive impact on the climate is a core part of our DNA.
Making Rattan Perfect
It’s amazing, but it’s not perfect. There are two areas we’re exploring long term:
- Rattan (and most wood furniture) is typically coated in Poly Urethane varnish. While it’s only a microscopically thin layer, we don’t like the idea of that being put back into soil 5 years from now. The flip side is, it really does help make the vine more durable. We’re exploring options for vegetable based sealers.
- The curing process for rattan involves being soaked in diesel vats. This is a closed loop process, and the diesel is used many times in the vat before eventually being used to power generators etc, but it’s still not perfect. We are just starting to explore other methods for curing, but the reality is that’s a multi-year project.
Swap & Cycle
We are genuinely committed to minimizing the impact of furniture on our planet. We know that one of the things our customers often struggle with is finding the best pathway for their old furniture. We are currently trialling (by invitation only) a Swap & Cycle system where we collect your old furniture and either refurbish & find a new home for it, upcycle it or dispose of it responsibly.
There is a lot for us to consider here. If you’re buying from us and you’d like to be part of the trial, please contact us when you make your purchase and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.