How to make your home style choices more sustainable
Sustainability is a word that has increasingly been heard in the last decade, and with good reason. Awareness of the climate crisis and our personal responsibilities towards it have risen, as has our desire to embrace more sustainable practices. In fact, a report by Forbes in December of last year revealed that 82% of consumers now want brands to practice sustainability.
However, making the best choices is far from simple. While a particular material may be sustainable to produce, we need to consider the impact of the production process in turning that material into a product. For example, some plant fibres used to make fabrics are sustainable to grow and harvest, yet the processes required to turn them into a useable product may include harsh chemicals, or large amounts of energy or water. It’s also important to also consider the long term impact of a material or product, for example how well they biodegrade.
At Kayu Home, we take great pride in our sustainability values, which is why we have put together this blog post to help you make ethical and environmentally sound choices when it comes to sustainable home furnishings and accessories.
Choose vintage and antique
The simplest way to make an impact when purchasing pieces for your home is to choose vintage or antique furniture. Not only will furnishing your home in this way reduce the resources required in production, but also avoid wastage of existing furnishings. Consumers are increasingly embracing this circularity, with 40% of those in the Forbes report choosing second-hand or refurbished products in favour of new. Period antiques are a great choice for many homes, but it's also possible for those with contemporary tastes to choose vintage furniture. Our range at Kayu Home includes restored antiques, vintage and pre-loved furniture sourced from China, Asia and Europe. By working with skilled craftsmen to carefully update and restore existing items of furniture, we are able to breathe fresh life into furniture which boasts decades of character.
This five drawer chest from the Chinese province of Shanxi was made around 1880, and is beautifully worn to a crackled patina, with the natural colour of its elm wood exposed on its top surface. The deep drawers are unusual for a piece of this type, and are perfect for storing linens in a bedroom or flatware in a dining room.
Opt for recycled materials
If you can't find the perfect piece of vintage or antique furniture, especially if you're looking for matching sets or multiples, there is a growing trend for furniture made from recycled materials. By using existing recycled wood and other materials to create new pieces of furniture, waste and natural resources are minimised.
Depending on the process of turning these recycled materials into new products, this can provide a flexible alternative to vintage shopping, which is almost as sustainable. For example, we use salvaged wooden beams taken from old buildings in Shandong province in China to create some of our sustainable furniture, working with skilled carpenters to create new pieces with a natural, water based finish that enhances the aged beauty of the wood. Recycled plastics also offer a sustainable option, and are increasingly diverse in their use. For example, many of our rugs are made from 100% recycled plastic, and boast as soft and comfortable a texture as wool.
Since our Small X-Base Round Dining Table is made to order by a single carpenter from reclaimed elm timbers, you have the choice of four finishes to suit your home’s style. The modern design of the table is balanced by the warmth and texture of the natural, recycled wood to make it beautifully versatile.
Select natural, sustainable materials
While reclaimed wood and other materials may be a popular choice for sustainable shopping, there are brand new materials which offer an environmentally conscious option too. Natural materials tend to provide a more sustainable choice, but be careful to consider the resources used in turning them into the finished product. Jute is a product we are fond of at Kayu Home - a rain fed crop that rarely requires the use of pesticides or fertilisers. Jute reaches maturity between 4 and 6 months, which is much faster than many similar crops, making it an incredibly efficient source of renewable material. In addition to making many of our rugs and baskets with jute, we find that its strength and flexibility make it perfect as a covering for some of our armchairs and ottomans.
In addition to sustainable crops, utilising by-products in the creation of new homewares is a good way to limit our impact on the environment.The leather used in some of our chairs and other furniture, is a by-product from the food industry. Sourced from goats farmed by local herdsmen in India, our leather is dyed using natural, traditional treatments with vegetable extract and tree bark. Similarly, the wood used in our mango furniture is sourced from trees originally grown for their fruit, which have matured to the point where they have stopped producing. This makes them a sustainable source of wood, allowing farmers to supplement their income, and helping them to plant new trees in their place.
Our Halong Acacia and Jute Armchair is designed to showcase the beauty of jute’s golden fibres, while benefiting from its flexible strength to provide comfort.
Make choices that last
Perhaps the most important factor in making sustainable choices for your home is to invest in pieces which are built to last, and offer timeless style you’ll love forever. Our range of teak furniture is popular for this reason, since consumers are increasingly focusing on buying fewer pieces with greater longevity. Indeed, the Forbes survey indicated that 38% of consumers have paid extra for a more durable or longer lasting product.
Teak is a hardwood found in abundance across South East Asia, which is hardwearing and ideal for indoor and outdoor furniture due to its resistance to decay and ability to withstand extremes in temperature. The teak we use is sourced from traditional houses in Indonesia that are being demolished to make way for more modern homes. Also ideal for both indoor and outdoor use are many of our rugs, since their 100% recycled plastic composition means they are machine washable, as well as insect and water resistant. This gives them a much longer lifespan than their woollen counterparts.
Although this Mika Recycled Rug has the appearance and texture of cotton in its weave, the yarn is actually made from recycled plastic. Despite its softness and flexibility, it is perfect for inside and outside use, and offers the long lifespan worthy of a long term investment.
Our vintage, recycled and sustainable pieces are chosen and created with sustainability in mind. We take pride in working with independent, smaller ateliers and local craftsmen to provide environmentally conscious furniture and accessories for our customers. By carefully blending pieces which use sustainable materials and restored antiques in our collections, we aim to minimise our impact on the environment and offer more sustainable home style choices.