A recent study conducted by the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC) finds that more than 96% of home furnishings purchasers will choose eco-friendly home furniture if they like the style and the price is within their budget. This is in line with what we have noticed. Just like sustainable fashion design, sustainable interior design has to meet the basic criteria of high-style and accessibility before considering purchasing. The SFC report also indicated 89% of respondents said they have already purchased environmentally-safe products. Most respondents (86%) said that it is important for their furniture to be produced in ways that do not harm the environment.
Lack of awareness of these products remains a major barrier for those who haven’t bought eco-friendly home furniture. We think that general lack of awareness is a result of a few things. First, we’ve noticed some companies make it hard to find the sustainable attributes they do practice, as a means of intentionally hiding the info for fear it would create a perceived barrier to purchasing to the client. Some companies do make claims of green practices, but are vague and non-specific, requiring the customer or designer to take the extra steps of finding a contact email and inquiring further about products. Lastly, we suspect that smaller sustainable makers simply don’t spend as much on Google search placement and advertising, making it much more difficult to find them and their products in competition with the huge big-box stores that take up the market share of the Google search results, even when they are less relevant to sustainable searches.
The good news indicated in this report is that the public is more ready than it’s ever been to purchase eco-friendly home furniture when done well. This is a significant opportunity for furniture manufacturers to shift to greener processes and for interior designers to present more eco-friendly furniture options to their clients and customers. The fourth most important attribute of a potential furniture purchase is being produced in a way that does not harm the environment. The importance of this attribute is only expected to increase as more people than ever are expressing significant concern about global warming and indoor air quality.
The study showed promise for those furniture manufacturers whose eco-friendly products’ prices are competitive with their non-eco-friendly counterparts as cost remains one of the biggest factors in furniture purchasing decisions. Even so, 87% of respondents are willing to pay at least 5 to 10% more for furnishings they consider eco-friendly.
Also important to note was that respondents named durability (98%) and non-toxicity (97%) as very important eco-attributes.
The survey sample consisted of U.S. homeowners, both men and women, between the ages of 30 and 60 with household incomes of $50,000 or more. All respondents had spent at least $500 in home furnishings in the previous 12 months.
The full survey report is available from SFC, at no cost to members, and is the subject of the May Sustainability Essentials webinar, broadcast live on May 20 and recorded for the SFC YouTube channel.