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AUSTRALIAN FURNITURE & FURNISHING
got a lot of competing issues. Price
point comes into a lot of decisions
over sustainability at the moment, and
for the consumer to really make that
choice, the manufacturers need to be
innovative [so] that... sustainability
doesn't cost any extra.'
Anthony says most furniture
manufacturers produce both green and
non-green products, which compete
with one another on the showroom
floor. He says that, ideally, consumers
wouldn't have a choice between
sustainable and unsustainable furniture.
Daphna compares the situation to the
organic food movement. 'Organics are
considered expensive, but it's actually
not that it's expensive; it's that they've
made processed food so cheap and
nasty that people think that's how much
food should cost. It's the same with
furniture -- they're bringing so much
furniture over from other countries that
is cheap, nasty and toxic, and not very
well made, that people think that's
normal. It's actually not the norm.'
As well as environmental benefits,
sustainable furniture offers
health benefits for end users and
manufacturers. Daphna says most
purchasers of sustainable furniture
are happier because they're getting
a high-quality, durable product with
low toxicity and no volatile organic
But, like any innovative movement,
some members of society are well-
educated on the facts, while the
majority is not.
Daphna explains that while higher-end
furniture is obviously of better quality,
the movement of large chain stores
towards sustainable practices and
materials is making sustainable furniture
available to a broad demographic.
'Someone like IKEA being more
environmental is having a better
influence on parts of society that
would never even think about it.
People are becoming more conscious
of what they're buying; they have more
of a conscience.'
This conscience is evident also on the
side of the manufacturer, says Daphna,
adding that there are companies
bringing a conscience to their practices
while running good businesses.
'There's so much rhetoric in the
industry,' says Anthony, 'where you get
a group of manufacturers together and
a lot of them will say, "Oh, we are being
sustainable." But what goes on behind
closed doors is hurting the movement.'
So, what will it take to encourage
companies to be more forward-
thinking and to integrate sustainability
practices into their core operations
from the beginning?
Daphna points out that education is
important in the shift towards embedded
sustainability in any business.
'That's right,' agrees Anthony. 'We
don't think it's something that can be
mandated; we think it's got to start
from within.' According to Anthony
and Daphna, networking between
companies will allow different
businesses to share their ideas and
practices with one another, and to
spread internal knowledge around the
Both Anthony and Daphna believe
that Australia will start seeing more
of the major companies implementing
sustainable initiatives in future.
'The conversations in five to 10 years'
time is not going to be "do we" or
"should we"; it's going to be "we are",
In pursuit of this future, there are a
number of programs and certifications
to highlight those products and
companies that have integrated
sustainability, including Good
Environmental Choices Australia and
But, according to Anthony,
certification is not the be all and end
all of opportunities; 'It's an expensive
route to take for smaller furniture
manufacturers'. There are also a
number of awards that recognise
sustainable furniture makers, such
as the globally unique International
Green Interior Awards, which creates
awareness for green fit-outs and
celebrates those who create them.
'Australia has an amazing opportunity
to be like Denmark, where there's a
lot of amazing, sustainable furniture
being produced,' says Anthony. 'We
need to start producing furniture that
is very innovative. Innovation is like
quality; you can't have innovation
that doesn't include sustainability,
and you can't have quality that
doesn't include sustainability.
'Sustainability is a new definition of
quality... There are already a lot of
manufacturers who are proving that
this new breed of quality is very, very
viable for their business, now and well
into the future.'
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