Embracing Sustainability in the Furniture Industry

Embracing Sustainability in the Furniture Industry

Ethical furniture, eco-conscious home decor, green living… There are buzzwords aplenty but regardless of how you say it, there’s a new wave of humans who want to have a positive impact when it comes to the way they live, shop and make everyday decisions, and Moss is here for it! 

Over the past 100 years the furniture industry has undergone significant change. A glow-up we’ll call it. The mid-century, post WWII era, was a tour de force of creation and style, rife with innovation and experimentation. It was not, however, particularly environmentally friendly. With the industrial revolution and the introduction of “off the shelf” business models, aka mass production, there came the vast extraction of virgin materials. Combine this with ramped up manufacturing, skyrocketing carbon emissions and pollution, the globe began to warm, and as low quality items were churned through, landfills filled up. But of course, you already know most of that… That’s why you’re here. 

It’s up to all of us to do our bit. No industry or individual is immune, and there’s plenty to be done! At Moss we’re adamant we can make a difference and we love the challenge of improving processes, and scoping out new practices and sustainable technology. Most of all we love creating pieces that transcend the fads and speak to our followers on a personal level, and always design our products with a high level of care and craftswomanship. This way they’ll be a part of your collections for years to come, ageing gracefully with you. As Yves Saint Laurent famously said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” 

So, in the name of transparency and sustainable practices we’re giving you a look under the hood. This blog is an expose on how Moss approaches new designs, selects and sources materials, and finally, produces and packages the final product.  

Ideation Phase: Set Intentions & Keep it Simple

It all starts with an idea! When we approach a new design there’s usually a spark or feeling we’re chasing. A texture that sings out, new colours and tones, or sometimes a solution to a problem i.e. how do we make a space more inviting, communal or visually captivating. While each piece is different there are some general rules we abide by to ensure the result has Moss DNA running through it, and, by extension, is better for the environment. 

We’ve found strength in simplicity, literally and figuratively. Minimalism and Modern Design go hand in hand (read our blog post on Moss Guide to Modern Furniture). By reducing the number and complexity of parts used, we reduce the amount of energy required to produce and assemble it. This goes for the manufacturer’s as well as allen-key wielding homebodies. With minimal joins and additional mechanisms there are less things that can wear, break, or need replacing and upkeep. On top of all that, we’ve found that deliberate lines and minimalist designs are most impactful. They’ve come to be a bit of a Moss calling card! 

Environmentally-Friendly Materials for Furniture

Now that we've dreamed and drawn up the blueprints, we can shift our focus to the materials that make for environmentally sustainable furniture! Raw vs processed vs recycled, the origins of materials, and how they’re created or extracted, these are all essential considerations when minimising environmental impact. From production to packaging we endeavour to choose materials that are best for the earth, and/or are already in circulation ripe for re-using. 

Up-cycled materials are exciting to work with; they often bring out visual quirks and subtle anomalies. When we use otherwise discarded materials, rather than aspiring for a cloned cookie-cutter end result, we celebrate these charming features and appreciate their reincarnated charms.  

For those reasons, we have a soft spot for Recycled Jade Glass here at Moss. It's visually striking, akin to gleaming marble or shimmering diamonds. Each of our products that incorporate it seem to imbue a certain je ne sais quoi that hints at the meaningful origin story beneath the surface. This material is crafted from discarded glass waste of jars and beer bottles alike, transformed through a meticulous process involving precise temperature application. The result, a lustrous transparent and semi-transparent element, which we love seeing in our Mingle coffee tables and side tables!

Jade glass isn’t the only recycled product we’re excited about, we have also been exploring Vegan Leathers and Polyester Chenille Fabrics. All fabrics used in our SS23/24 Collection are made from recycled PU waste, plastic bottles and garment scraps. A staggering 67,000 used plastic bottles can be processed to create 1 ton of recycled PET. By choosing to use recycled plastic over virgin materials, we are reducing the amount of CO2 emissions being released by 4.2 tons, saving 0.0364 tons of oil and 6.2 tons of water. Utilising these recycled materials aligns perfectly with our ethos. Salvaged from refuse, impressively durable, and holding the potential for future transformations. What’s not to love!

Wood has been the champion of so many famous designs and is an unrelenting crowd favourite. Despite the very-real presence of deforestation and over-logging, there are environmental benefits to using wood; if it’s done right. At its core, wood is easily accessible and renewable, and the small amount of waste that is created when processing it is largely biodegradable. When it comes to the wood Moss uses, it’s all responsibly sourced timber certified by the International Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) https://fsc.org/en. This includes our Oak and Ashwood veneers, as well as solid Ashwood. With the majority of people inhabiting sprawling cities and suburbs it’s understandable that forests end up a little out of sight and out of mind. However, as the FSC puts it, our lives depend on them. Forests regulate climate, purify air, filter water, and more, so keeping them safe should be a top priority. The FSC certification guarantees that our suppliers follow stringent environmental and social standards, and adhere to responsible forest management. Integrating these certified timbers into our products reflects a commitment to preserving forests, supporting biodiversity, and maintaining the global well-being of our planet. Beyond the rigorous sustainability criteria, these materials also infuse our products with a natural and timeless beauty.

Another approach is using organic raw materials that are readily available (and easily extractable). If they don’t have to travel far, have a high-recyclability and are easily repurposed, these options can be ideal for yielding a low environmental impact. The Natural Stone in Moss Homewares is a great example of this. Created by nature, with minimal human intervention, the natural stone is one of the earliest green building materials out there. Its formation, orchestrated by the forces of nature over time, eliminates the need for additional human intervention and resources in the creation/production phase - and therefore no emissions.. 

We love all of the above! These materials need to serve a purpose and complement design both functionally and aesthetically. We love their unique characteristics and know you will too; celebrating the beauty of nature but also upholding our dedication to sustainable practices. The next step is getting them to you safely and sustainably!

Sustainable Packaging

Not only do we focus on the materials used, but we also consider the transit and end-of-life cycle for our products. For the longest time, single-use plastics, styrofoam and bubblewrap have been the norm for packaging furniture. Thankfully, this is changing. Recyclable and recycled packaging are becoming popular, as well as light, biodegradable materials which reduce energy waste in transportation and natural waste at the end of use.

Where possible, we are using Biodegradable packing peanuts that are made from naturally derived starches like wheat and cornstarch. Entirely plant-based, biodegradable packing peanuts dissolve in water making them infinitely better than their never-break-down predecessors. Moss also uses recyclable cardboards, and honeycomb paper wrap made from, recyclable, degradable and compostable craft paper, and FSC timber crates.

What’s Next For Sustainability? 

From mushroom-based packing peanuts to VOC-free processes, the ingenuity and enthusiasm in our community is astounding. If you look for it, you can see more and more people jumping on the bandwagon, and shouldering a shared agenda, and striving for innovative solutions like minimising waste and toxicity, regenerating energy and natural resources, and an increasing collective awareness. Moss actively seeks out partnerships with these suppliers who share a dedication to sustainability. By collaborating with like-minded businesses, we strengthen our collective impact and foster a more sustainable industry as a whole. No one industry or business is going to single-handedly solve the complex and varied environmental issues we face today. That’s why collaboration between companies on a global scale is such an important goal so we can improve day by day.