features
#088 / 2007
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Eco comparisons

furniturelink's visits to VIA, FCBA (issue #085) and the two manufacturers featured in issues #086 and #087 prompted comparisons to North American green endeavours. A variety of government-financed agencies and programs in France aids and promotes its furniture sector at levels superior to ours. As well, from a broader perspective, the EU's fledgling furniture eco-label scheme has no parallel in North America.

However, when considering which continent leads in eco-furniture manufacturing, the conclusion is less clear, especially as some European countries enforce stricter eco-regulations than do others.

Eco-equality generally exists in the office sector between North American and European companies. Manufacturing facilities on both continents produce an increasing number of "newly green" items, with less waste and negative consequences for the environment.

The same can't be said for major domestic furniture manufacturing. In both Europe and North America, larger-scale manufacturers and retailers (exceptions include IKEA) have done little to develop sustainable products and educate the consumer about them. Fortunately, many smaller-scale domestic furniture manufacturers on both continents show more commitment. Their products exhibit a healthy mix of technical innovation, creativity and respect for the environment. Note the Eco Design Bois Bourgogne products (issue #085) and those exhibited annually at Haute Green in New York.

Perhaps the most perplexing challenge for the conscientious consumer centres on identifying the manufacturers truly eco-committed from those exploiting "green buzz" for short-term gain. Until stringent national and international eco-label schemes come into effect, eco-seeking consumers must be wary, especially given the variety and quality of certification and labelling schemes.

Though both North American and Europe can claim some progress in eco-furniture design and manufacturing, both continents still need to go greener. Then both the consumer and the planet will gain.

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