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Ethical Furniture for your Home

17 February, 2014

So absolute is our family’s commitment to secondhand shopping that my three year old, Ramona, calls all shops “Charity Shops.” (Except she misses out the T because she is a cockney.) They are pretty much the only shops we go in to!

I call our style Landfill Chic and our whole house was, and our new bus is, decked out in this rugged manner.

However, where we couldn’t source stuff secondhand, from charity shops or street corners, we would research hard into how to make a more ethical choice.

In fact, if we had more money at that time we might have done this a little bit more. (As it was, Landfill Chic was all we could afford, mostly.)

For example, we needed flooring and I didn’t know about this BEAUTIFUL homemade, recycled floor back then, so we delved into the world of ethical carpets etc. In the end we opted for 100% wool as it is a renewable resource. (Then when it arrived we saw it had been shipped all the way from New Zealand! Yikes. Welsh sheep are obviously too superior with their strong musical heritage to provide carpet.)

In an ideal world, our family home would be a mixture of stuff heading for the landfill and fair trade and small, independent makers.

Having done a bit of thinking about this I wanted to suggest a few options for your home. These are companies I have worked with through the Fair Christmas Fayre I used to run, and ones I have since come across.

Willow and Hall for the beautiful sofas
Willow and Hall design and produce the most stunning sofas right on Britain’s soil. They are an independent company that are able to oversee every part of the chain. The owner, Sarah, says

“At Willow & Hall ethics means treating people fairly. This means everyone from our suppliers, craftsmen, customers and staff. We are passionate about the quality of our products and we know that if we make them by using lovely raw materials which are then handled by talented craftsmen who are passionate about making quality furniture then all this will make a beautiful final product that we can be proud to offer to our customers.

We like to understand the full journey our products make and that everyone in the process is treated fairly. We do not like the idea of externalising production costs so that a factory worker in the third world pays through their poverty for low cost products in the UK. Therefore our products are good quality at good fair prices.”

Super stylish and ethical- everything you want in a sofa.

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London Reclaimed for the most fabulous Wine Box TV Cabinet
I’m really excited about this business that hails from our old corner of London. They teach disadvantaged young ‘uns the worthy skills of furniture making and they reclaim all their timber. This Wine Box cabinet is just lovely.

A whole kitchen from Milestone
With Milestone’s eco range you can choose an entire kitchen built from entirely recycled materials. Or you can chose the Man VS Tree option- a whole kitchen made from one tree from a sustainable Forest, made by one dude. With his two bare hands. (And maybe a tool or two.) Awesome.

Greenwood’s Bed
He’ll let you get in his fully sustainable and organic bed, that Greenwood. Hand made in the UK and made to measure, these beds make me just want to fall asleep with delight.

Traidcraft’s upright chair and furniture set
I love it when something that is Fair Trade blows perceptions of Fair Trade out of the water. This chair and coffee table set is soooo stylish and fun, it has an almost Mid Century Modern feel to it.

Have you found any awesome ethical furniture businesses? They can be hard to track down so do leave a tip-off…

This is proudly delivered in collaboration with Willow and Hall. Please see my disclosure for more on that.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Eeh Bah Mum 18 February, 2014 at 6:32 am

    I have a similar addiction to all things second hand.
    My daughter was very sad that her friends at nursery have to get clothes from shops whereas she gets all her stuff passed down from bigger girls which when you think about it is way cooler.

  • Reply Yael 18 February, 2014 at 7:24 am

    This time I’m a bit lost. We’re trying to do the same and about 90% of our stuff our second hand (but I wish I had your good taste and incredible design touch! Our idea of Shabby Chic is basically just shabby and no chic whatsoever!).

    But with all my love to fair trade and local producers, my lifestyle can’t support a furniture set that costs £1,595.00!! Honestly, if I want to go on spending time with my family and do only enjoyable, ethical jobs, I don’t think I will be able to afford it.
    We’re now trying to build some things from old pieces of unwanted furniture we get from freecycle, which is really fun and very artistic, but I’d really love to have a decent armchair in a realistic price.
    What a dilemma!

    • Lucy
      Reply Lucy 18 February, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Well, yes :) Like I said, it does cost. But then again, I’m blown away by normal new prices – these aren’t absurd at all compared to other big, new furniture companies.

      And when we do buy new we see the extra cost of ethical as being the true, right cost. This is very much the case with our food bill.

      Lots to think about.

      • Reply Libs 21 February, 2014 at 9:55 am

        I too struggle with paying out thousands for something that isn’t food or mortgage or actually lifesaving but, that said, I was pretty impressed by the cost of the sofa’s. They do seem about equal with highstreet prices which we always seem to be told is impossible to do if you insist on local suppliers rather than cheap as chips overseas slave labour.

        I’m always super shocked how much really nasty, as in nasty looking and nasty backstory, nasty identikit items cost. Like where do other people get all this spare cash from to blow 2 grand on a leatherette monstrosity?

        I’m considering getting an old sofa reupholstered and realise that it’s probably going to set us back at least a few hundred which is scary. But then I expect to be paid for my time and expertise in my job so it seems fair to expect others to do so too. I guess brand spanking new sofa’s are a bit of luxury. These days we forget that years ago people didn’t expect to get new sofas and telly’s every year they saved pennies and handed sturdy items down.

        Great to hear about British suppliers at fairly reasonable prices! Thanks
        Libs recently posted…Glove Love!My Profile

        • Lucy
          Reply Lucy 21 February, 2014 at 12:26 pm

          Yep, I agree. I think Willow and Hall are perfectly reasonable eh.

  • Reply Katy Beale 20 February, 2014 at 3:47 am

    Food for thought…

    We have a gorgeous big brown Heals sofa I picked up at a great price on eBay a few years ago (patience is all it requires and a budget so you don’t do that manic bidding thing I have been known to partake in).

    And a very retro wool brown/cream striped Swedish sofa which I got from this local mid century shop in Hackney for pretty cheap too: http://www.houseoftwenty.com/
    Katy Beale recently posted…Kids Clothes: The Gender WarsMy Profile

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