The word sustainability is a real buzz word in all aspects of life right now and not without good reason. Just a decade ago, companies that aimed at all-out sustainability were deemed both lofty and unrealistic. Now, however, participating in green initiatives it’s virtually a necessity.
Google the word ‘sustainability’ and the definition it returns is ‘making provisions in such a way as to live within the limits of the planet’s natural resources, ensuring no further harm or damage is done to the planet’s ecosystems, diversity and climate.’
Yet, as little as a decade ago, any company aiming for total sustainability within the realms of the wording listed above, would have been viewed as both lofty and unrealistic by many others in the industry.
Moreover, because the infrastructure and support might not have been available to adopt such policies, companies were, to all intent and purpose, likely to be setting themselves up for failure.
In 2020, however, the focus has shifted completely and now the need for companies to participate in green initiatives is fast becoming a necessity.
Among industries that have embraced sustainable manufacturing, the commercial café furniture industry is one of the more interesting. As worldwide consumers demand more and more sustainable products, furniture manufacturers, in particular, are having to make wholesale changes to meet this demand.
According to a 2018 study carried out by the Hartmann Group, 87% of all regular café goers surveyed, belong to what they class as ‘the world of sustainability.’ This includes those whose attitudes, values and purchasing choices are heavily influenced by cultural, social and environmental issues that affect the planet.
This mirrors a study carried out by the Sustainable Furniture Council who stated that 90% of all people surveyed would buy furniture because it was made from sustainable materials.
These findings, along with changing attitudes, have fuelled the rapid change towards responsible furniture manufacturing and many commercial furniture companies are embracing the changes like never before.
Take wood for instance… It’s a big part of many café furniture designs and has been since the iconic bistro chair No.14 was introduced by German-Austrian cabinet maker Michael Thonet back in 1859.
Rather than choosing wood based on the criteria of cost-effectiveness, ease of use and beauty, many responsible furniture manufacturers now invest heavily in researching what types of wood are sustainable and whether or not they are suitable for commercial furniture use. In other words, the focus has switched.
As such, furniture companies are looking to differentiate themselves from their counterparts by being awarded the green Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. This indicates that all wood used in the making of their commercial furniture is traceable to sustainably managed forests. As far as sustainability goes, it’s a highly coveted and sought-after accolade!
But aside from the moral responsibilities that furniture manufacturers are now faced with, there is perhaps another reason why companies take the time to source sustainable resources and initiate green initiatives, and that’s because it’s seriously good for business!
By meeting the demands of their ‘greener’ clientele, commercial furniture manufacturers are increasing product sales as they attract a more ethical but equally loyal customer base.
Also, by meeting the demands of so-called ‘responsible manufacturing’, companies are improving efficiency and decreasing energy consumption. This enables them to reduce overall operating costs and increase their bottom-line profits.
Responsible manufacturing it seems can be a win/win situation all round!
Russell Crawford, Managing Director of Café Chairs Melbourne, a company that supplies café furniture to the Melbourne café and restaurant scene, has also noticed a massive change. He states that…
“Over the last few years, we’ve witnessed a huge uptake in the demand from our customers for sustainable furniture. It seems that cafe goers are not only choosy about their coffee, but they also care about the furniture they sit on too. This is understandable given the changing attitudes towards many of the environmental issues that this planet faces.”
While it’s good to talk about the environment and responsible manufacturing, one final point to mention is aesthetics. Or rather, does the sustainability factor compromise the aesthetic beauty of commercial furniture in any way?
Apparently not is the answer!
Fortunately, many sustainable materials such as bamboo and beech, and the increasing skills in working with such materials, make it easier for manufacturers to produce something that looks both beautiful and ethical. This is shown in products like the sleek Madeline Chair https://cafechairsmelbourne.com.au/product/madeline-chair-in-beech/ or the Tolix Enspired combination chair https://cafechairsmelbourne.com.au/product/replica-tolix-chair-with-timber-seat-in-matte-black/.
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