Green and furniture should go together naturally – no pun intended. These days, however, too many of the items sold in furniture stores are made not from natural real wood but of compressed materials covered in a thin veneer meant to look like wood. Such products do not last, and within a few years or a decade or so wind up in a landfill. Real wood furniture can last for generations, and can be restored and refinished for long use. Such real furniture, especially when made from wood harvested from forests that are managed in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner, is as green as anything gets. Here are five furniture stores in Connecticut that are green – in either the products they sell or the way they run their company, or both.
Pilgrim Furniture City
Family owned since it began in 1961, Pilgrim Furniture City is committed to being green. It now has four locations in Connecticut, one of which, in Milford, runs on solar power. Rather than build a brand new showroom or demolish the old building on the lot he bought for the Milford store, owner Mike Albert worked with architects to restore and refit the old 1950s-era industrial facility and make it energy efficient. Aided by a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, Albert engaged Soltage, Inc. to install what he proudly says is “the largest solar photovoltaic installation on a commercial showroom in New England.” The 1,500 panels in the building’s solar array provides enough energy and heat to meet between 50 to 80 percent of the showroom’s needs. The roof is to be landscaped to provide a green space and to reduce water runoff.
Pilgrim, says Albert, “is one of the most green friendly furniture stores in Connecticut” – and not only because of the green construction at its Milford store. Pilgrim has long been and continues to be a big donor to community organizations, and its Pilgrim Furniture City Charitable Fund is an expression of the family and company’s belief that they are part of a community, and as such, “feel it is our responsibility to give back to those who support us.”
Bare Wood Furniture
At Bare Wood, the wood is bare and real. There are no pieces made of compressed wood-like materials finished with chemicals to look like real wood. Bare Wood sells only the real thing and shows it off bare, so customers can see what they are getting. The furniture is made by craftsmen from oak, pine, maple, alder and cherry, much of it from local sources. Although most of the products sold are unfinished, Bare Wood will finish a piece to meet the customer’s specifications.
Owners Tom and Robin Callahan are committed to sustainable forestry, which is why most of their products carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. That label certifies that the wood used in making that piece of furniture came from trees harvested from forests that are managed in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. Bare Wood Furniture also follows the guidelines of the Unfinished Furniture Association.
“Earth friendly, sustainable furniture” is the only kind of furniture sold at The Woodmarket in Monroe. “The best furniture is made from real wood,” explains owner John Cooke, who opened his store in 1992. Unlike so much modern furniture that is made from particle board, the products sold in his shop are made from real wood – mostly from trees grown, harvested and processed in the United States. Cooke does sell some furniture made from South American Radiata pine, but only from plantation-grown pine forests.
Purchasing furniture made from real wood is perhaps “the most environmentally friendly thing you can do” says Cooke. Not only is most of the wood used harvested from forests that are managed in a sustainable fashion, but the furniture itself “is built to last generations.” That means instead of being dumped in a landfill or munched down in a wood recycling operation (which does use energy), real wood furniture can be restored and reused for decades.
Morris and Anne Firestone opened Pinewood Furniture way back when Eisenhower was president – and long before almost anyone even gave a thought to being “green.” For nearly 60 years, however, Pinewood Furniture has been just that – a store committed to providing real, authentic wood furniture made from American wood harvested in an environmentally sound and sustainable manner. Morris and Anne are gone, but their son Ed continues the proud and green family tradition, both in the Manchester and now Canton stores.
Pinewood sells what it boasts is “sustainable, green furniture” made mostly from American woods – hickory, alder, ash, aspen, oak, maple, beech, etc. And for those products made from imported woods (notably South American or Malaysian parawood), the company ensures that they are harvested from plantations which plant a new tree for every one they cut down to make into wood.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a professional and prolific writer with a proven publishing record in a wide variety of fields. An historian, novelist, freelance journalist, ghost-writer, book reviewer, magazine editor, web and magazine columnist, Mark has more than 30 years of experience. His work can be found at Examiner.com.