We at Ohio Hardwood Furniture care deeply about environmentally sustainable practices, just as much as we care about the quality of the furniture that we produce and sell. We believe that the two traits, being sustainability and quality, can be artfully merged and are not mutually exclusive to each other.
That’s why we are so firmly committed to sustainability in our own practices. The native hardwood stock that we harvest to create our own designs is allowed to grow up to ten years in some instances before it is harvested. In production, we make use of every part of the tree. What doesn’t get categorically transformed into furniture becomes fuel in the form of firewood, bedding for livestock, or even mulch.
These are only some of the practices that we have implemented to ensure that our place in our environment represents harmony instead of extortion. By committing to these responsible practices, we’re doing our part to ensure that the resources we use are available for future generations to use, and keeping the ecosystems from which we take those resources healthier as well.
We’re not the only ones who do it. Many of our partners, which represent a cross-section of the most successful and highly lauded furniture producers in the country, are as interested in preserving their landscapes as we are.
One such producer whose designs have been acclaimed across the country is Charleston Forge Furniture. Their organization sets the bar for sustainability in furniture, and here’s how they do it, and why it matters.
Why Sustainability Matters in Furniture
It’s easy to see how measures that impact sustainability in some industries have a net positive impact on the environment and on business in general. In some other areas, the correlation is harder to draw. Some might find this to be the case, for example, in the foodservice industry. Single-use plastics like straws and plates are commonly used, and after they’re used, they work their way to landfills and waterways. An attempt to reduce the use of plastics and paper goods can have an immediate impact on that business’s effects on the environment.
With a furniture supplier, the effects might not be as apparent. To understand them, it might help to take a step back and to keep the bigger picture in mind. Much furniture, after all, is produced from wood that is a product of and must be harvested from the environment. In short, here’s how sustainability matters, even in the furniture industry.
- The woods are diverse, vibrant ecosystems that are literally alive from top to bottom, and each one is unique
Responsible sourcing and harvesting of timber have a profound effect on the environments from which it is taken. Consider that the trees in the forest are part of a complex and diverse ecosystem. They are not only not the only living things in the forest, but all of the lives therein are interrelated.
A single tree is itself alive, and a unique individual that comprises a small part of the entire ecosystem. That tree, however, is also alive with a vibrant host of microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi. Those microorganisms and fungi give rise to symbiotic relationships with insects and other living beings that in turn feed the larger organisms within the forest. Many of these, such as birds, treefrogs, and arboreal mammals, might actually live, feed and reproduce right within the space of that very tree.
This drawn-out, colorful representation of the woods is not meant to instill a feeling of bucolic reverence, only to illustrate that harvesting so much as a single tree has a severe impact on the environment from which the tree is taken. Harvesting in cycles and allowing trees to mature and areas to recover before being harvested again all do their part to secure and ensure the health of the greater ecosystem.
- The production of furniture has the potential to contribute (or cut back on) environmental pollution
The fuels that furniture producers use to power their offices and workspaces, or their tools, will also come down to the bottom line of sustainability. That’s why some producers use wood to heat their shops and choose to use skilled human labor instead of automating a process.
Sometimes bench-made furniture that has been made by a skilled pair of human hands is more expensive, but it can also cut back on the bottom line of pollution.
- Plastic and paper packaging associated with furniture production often end up in landfills or in the ocean
Remember also that furniture, like many other goods, must be packaged, cushioned, and protected during shipment, and often after it gets to its final location. All of these packaging materials are really only useful in transport and end up in the trash after the furniture has been shipping to its final destination.
Some manufacturers use eco-friendly shipping materials and packaging, but many others use plastic and papers that either cannot be recycled effectively or are cheaper to throw away than to buy anew. It should come as no surprise that when these materials are used, despite the fact that they are not central to the production process itself, will end up making their way to landfills and waterways.
- Long-lasting quality and eco-conscious practices will help diminish the overall impact on their environment.
When a furniture producer commits to utilizing sustainable practices and cutting back on waste, the overall net impact on the environment is positive. Extra human labor instead of electrically automated processes, the use of propane instead of natural gas, a shortening of the supply chain, and the use of more eco-friendly materials and finishes all contribute to the health of the environment and at length, the world.
How Charleston Forge Furniture Does It
Charleston Forge is no stranger to eco-friendly practices and the organization has implemented quite a range of measures with the end goal of cutting back on waste and minimizing all foreseeable adverse impacts on the environment.
Notably, the following are some of the measures or practices that they have enacted, along with how they help.
- They use recycled steel in their production of their furniture
Charleston Forge Furniture is known for one thing above all others. It is known for its unique, rugged, rustic, unapologetic designs. Call them inspired by the beautiful landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina wherein the company and its operations are located if you will, but the case is that Charleston Forge produces some of the most beautiful furniture of America.
Much of their furniture makes artful use of hand-wrought iron or steel and native hardwood stock. If you visit their operation, you’re likely to see a craftsman forging hot metal or hand planing a solid wood tabletop.
Speaking of that, Charleston Forge is committed not only to making sure that you can feel a sense of hand-made craftsmanship in every piece of furniture. They’re also committed to using resources wisely.
In this instance, wood can be grown and regrown, but metal cannot. It must be mined and refined. Charleston Forge takes great pride in the fact that they use recycled metals in the production of their furniture, producing art from what would otherwise have been wasted. They also are diligent in recycling scraps of metal that they can’t repurpose into furniture.
- Most wood harvested comes from the surrounding areas, and less is harvested than is produced every year
Much of the wood that becomes Charleston Forge Furniture is harvested from the hills of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains. That’s right in their backyard, which actually produces a number of benefits. In this specific instance, the case is that the forest regenerates itself at a significantly faster rate than the rate at which it is currently being harvested, which is good for all parties involved.
The USDA has certified that for every tree harvested from the region in question, 2.9 trees currently grow in its stead. That helps to produce a net positive rate of growth for the region. There are nearly 3 trees to every one that is taken, with more growing every year.
It’s also nice that the region is home to choice hardwoods that Charleston Forge uses in its furniture, including but not limited to maple and walnut.
- Their finishes and powder coats are more environmentally friendly than alternatives
Charleston Forge Furniture has also committed to utilizing the most environmentally friendly finishes possible. In this specific instance, they have taken steps to ensure that the powder-coat finish they use on their steel and iron that protects it from corrosion and gives it a rustic appeal is less harmful than many other common wet techniques. It also contains no harmful solvents that would make their way into the atmosphere or environment.
- They use more eco-friendly fuels to heat their factories, offices, and forges
Charleston Forge also recognizes that it is not only how they produce their furniture that matters, but also what other steps they take as an organization that can and will impact the environment. Consequently, they have chosen to utilize propane as a fuel for heating their facilities instead of natural gas. Propane is more efficient than natural gas and it also burns more cleanly releasing fewer harmful compounds as a result.
- They cut back significantly on cardboard waste
While plastic gets the lion’s share of attention for its adverse effects on the environment, it is not the only culprit. Paper pollution is actually a lot worse than most people realize. For one thing, since cardboard is made from largely organic materials, it does biodegrade, which itself is a good thing; the catch is that it produces a lot of methane as it does, increasing the overall concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
The more cardboard used in packaging, the worse it is for the environment because each piece of cardboard corresponds to wood pulp that would have to be harvested from the environment as well. Charleston Forge utilizes an on-demand packaging system that enables them to custom-cut each box, cutting back significantly on waste.
- They actively cut back on transportation-based energy and resource consumption
Finally, Charleston Forge has been a leader in cutting back on transportation-related pollution. Not only do they source most of their wood locally, but most of their other suppliers are in their area, too, cutting back on fossil fuel use and other issues associated with a lengthy and tenuous supply chain.
This is great news for Charleston Forge because it saves money, but it also helps to limit the pollutants that are released into the atmosphere. It’s one thing that it’s necessary to transport furniture to the homes and businesses of their customers around the country; that much can’t be helped.
What can be helped is where they get their raw materials, and they have optimized their processes by leaps and bounds, cutting back on transportation-based costs and pollution. The entire initiative has a net positive effect, both in terms of resources wasted and pollutants released.
To learn more about how Charleston Forge Furniture makes a positive impact on the supply chain and the environment and then passes quality along to you, give us a call at 330-657-2095 and we’d be happy to let you in on their processes. We have quite a few of our own!
While we love to hear from our valued customers, we’d enjoy it even more if you could come in and visit us at our location in Peninsula, Ohio. We’re a little bit off of the path but all things worth discovering are hidden in some way or other. Considering that, and the fact that furniture, like clothing, is best interacted with and experienced on a personal level, you’ll get a better experience when you come in to visit us in-store.
Call us at the number above to set up a time to come in and visit. We’d love to see you, and you can interact with our Charleston Forge collection and our in-house designs in person!