What once seemed to be a home decor trend is now becoming an industry standard, as sustainable is the new watchword for furniture. Sustainable furniture can be defined many ways, but essentially it is creating something that can be recycled after the piece has worn out its utility, or has been crafted from recycled or sustainable materials.
When searching for sustainable—aka eco-friendly, organic or reuseable—furniture, advice from local sellers is the best first step. They can answer questions about materials, manufacturing and how long a piece will last. Identifying what is and is not sustainable can be tricky, because what it really comes down to are the individual materials. Is the manufacturer using recycled plastics or wood, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council? What other materials are they using, and how much of them?
Unfortunately, the rising popularity of sustainable furniture has led to “greenwashing,” in which marketers misrepresent their products to make them seem more environmentally friendly than they really are. That’s why having the kinds of resources we do locally—sellers who know the intricacies of the sustainability issue—is key in a community that places particular importance on environmental concerns in retail shopping.
Here are some places to look for sustainable furniture in Santa Cruz:
3131 Soquel Dr, Soquel
Bruce Cushnir is the owner of Couch Potato, located in Soquel. The store has been open since 1998, and they focus on developing close relationships with the manufacturers they consider reliable—in fact, it’s Cushnir’s policy to work only with North American companies, so it’s easier to develop these relationships. While not all of Couch Potatoes manufacturers are 100 percent sustainable, others have eco-friendly elements.
Some of the manufacturers they carry are Sphinx, Stylus, Huntington Industries, and Elite Product.
To Cushnir, the environmentally sound aspect of his business is important.
“We all make a footprint. Whatever we can do to make our footprint less damaging and more positive is progress for everyone,” he says.
Modern Life Home and Garden
925 41st Ave, Santa Cruz
Jill Sollitto, owner of Modern Life Home and Garden, has strong opinions about why it’s important to carry sustainable furniture in her store. She believes that resources are limited and our population is increasing at a rate never seen before.
As the market changes and eco-friendly furniture becomes more the norm, Sollitto is aware of the problem greenwashing has become, and wants buyers to be confident they are getting the real deal.
Modern Life also carries items made from reclaimed materials like purses and candles.
2647 41st Ave, Soquel
SC 41 takes pride in carrying only sustainable furniture, like local manufacturer Maria Yee, and Comfort Designs.
Michael Baetge, owner of SC 41 and Homespace in Santa Cruz, defines sustainable furniture as something that lasts and endures so in the future it can be handed down rather than ending up in a landfill. Everything from the carpet to the paint on the wall to the products they sell in the store are eco-friendly at SC 41. Today, Baetge thinks that sustainable furniture has become less of a novelty and more of a conscious goal.
“Eight years ago we opened this store. At the time there were a handful of suppliers that we could purchase from,” Baetge said. “Today, we feel it has become the standard of furniture.”
2701 41st Ave, Soquel
Homespace, which is located right next to SC41 in Soquel, follows the same ethical agenda as their sister company, SC 41.
Baetge purchased this store in 2012, and has since added various sustainable options.