Why You Should Choose Sustainably Manufactured Furniture

In Blog, Green Manufacturing by Amos Kober

When it comes to residence hall furniture, is it possible to balance quality, affordability, and the highest environmental standards? With sustainably manufactured furniture, it is.

There are a lot of different kinds of furniture to choose from, but solid hardwood is the best example of how to strike the perfect balance between these priorities. And more importantly, domestic solid hardwood is the only bona fide source of sustainable residence hall furniture.

There are a lot of reasons for this. And we can briefly unpack those below. But first, let’s take a look at some of the other options.

Un-Sustainable Furniture Is The Norm

Today, engineered wood materials and composites are common in the residence hall marketplace. Veneers, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard (MDF) lower material costs and enable mass production of furniture both here in the United States and overseas.

More often than not, you can get this furniture at a discount.

But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. But what does that mean?

To begin with, these materials rate poorly when it comes to sustainability and life cycle analysis. They’re often filled with chemicals, glues, and resins. As a result, they aren’t recyclable, reclaimable, and you can’t use them as wood fuel at the end of their life because burning them releases toxic and poisonous fumes.

In fact, a recent study concluded that many of these materials–rubberwood, MDF, laminated furniture–still emit volatile organic compounds, which are known carcinogens and dangerous to human health.

It doesn’t stop there. Furniture made from these materials lasts half as long as furniture made from solid hardwood.

Furthermore, furniture made from these materials has a large carbon footprint due to energy-intensive manufacturing processes and from importing materials from China and Southeast Asia.

You can learn more about some these materials in this article.

Embracing The Cutting Edge Of Sustainability

But you don’t need to compromise on sustainability to get quality and affordability. We embrace and encourage a different approach to residence hall furniture based on the values of sustainability.

It’s our belief, backed by science and over 40 years of experience, that furniture constructed primarily from domestic solid hardwood is the “greenest” choice for our customers.

For over 40 years, our craftsmen have used time-tested methods for constructing solid hardwood furniture right here in the United States.  Although our factory is filled with modern machinery and finishing equipment, we value the old-world craftsmanship and authenticity which solid wood brings to our line of products.

This commitment to solid wood allows us to maintain the highest standards of environmental sustainability in the residence hall furniture market.

In fact, our entire manufacturing process, from harvesting and milling to furniture construction, is waste-free. You can learn more about our unique sustainable Vertical Integration Process (VIP) here.

This sustainable manufacturing process sets us apart from the rest of the residence hall furniture industry. But we take other steps to ensure that our operation is sustainable. For example:

  • We use load-optimization software to ensure that our shipments are filled to capacity so we don’t waste fuel.
  • We use recycled cardboard to protect our shipments and by maximizing load capacity we use as little of it as possible.
  • We further reduce our carbon footprint within our logistics operations by shipping our product by rail. A fully loaded container of DCI furniture weighs 10 tons. If the distance is 3,000 miles by rail, we are only using 60 gallons of diesel fuel to move one of our containers across the country.
  • We regularly reclaim furniture we installed over two or three decades ago, break it down, and reuse the salvageable wood in new projects.
  • We use long lasting LED lighting with motion sensor activation to save electricity.
  • We power our operation with wood boilers that are fueled with sawdust from our manufacturing process. We use no other fuel than our own wood byproducts.

Sustainability Doesn’t Mean “Do The Least Damage”

A lot of our competition put a clever marketing spin on their ‘environmental’ credentials. The truth is, those standards are geared more to doing the least damage possible.

We see it differently. Here’s how wikipedia defines sustainability:

In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to endure; it is how biological systems remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes.

We feel that sustainability is not only our responsibility to the community of life, we also think it’s good business. And it’s great for the biosphere. We don’t need to spin it. Our aim is to promote good science, good stewardship, and good business.

Embracing the tenets of sustainability is how we do that.

At DCI, we are passionate about sustainability. You can learn more about our green practices in each of the following categories:

You can read our full sustainability overview here.

In order to remain cost competitive, we do make some exceptions to our solid hardwood policy.  DCI offers our customers an option to have their Casegoods (dressers, desks, pedestals, bookcases, study carrels and wardrobes) constructed from hardwood plywood. We make each material group available to you with certified green materials.

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To set up an order today or to talk with one of our representative, you write to us here or call: (800) 552-8286.

You can learn more about our industry-leading FSC CoC certification, our MAS certification, and our green materials sourcing, sustainable manufacturing, and our unique zero waste Vertical Integration Process (VIP).

Download the DCI Sustainability overview here.