Our Sustainability Promise
12 Minute Read
Sustainability is a topic that as consumers, absolutely none of us can ignore. The planet has been ravaged by consumerism, with disposable products having been the go-to for many throughout the 1980s and 1990s, despite warnings by scientists. While that means there is a huge amount of damage that has been done, awareness has grown that if we all make changes to what we do and how we buy, we can save the planet from further deterioration – and we can all do our bit.
This awareness means that fast fashion pieces – whether clothing, or homewares – have finally fallen out of favour, and are no longer on-trend. Today, the trend is towards slow fashion, handmade items, buying fewer, higher quality pieces that are going to last, as well as buying gently used second hand products – and while that is better for our wallets, it is also an awful lot better for the environment too.
Since Ben Simpson Furniture was born, we have kept sustainability at the forefront of everything that we do, and we are incredibly conscious of the need to take responsibility of the impact our business has on the planet. With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the ways that we keep our business as sustainable as possible.
From the beginning
As we started Ben Simpson furniture, we knew that sustainability was going to be an important aspect of the business. From creating early products in the family garden shed, to our purpose built workshop in West Sussex, everything that we have created and done to grow the business has kept sustainability in mind. We knew that premium quality, hand crafted furniture has always been a great investment for the home, but also that this type of product is better for the environment too. That’s because it is usually built better, and is stronger, so is less likely to need replacing, placing further demands on the planet. When we started making furniture then, it was pretty clear that would be what we would create.
Creating products that last
As we’ve just mentioned, one of the most sustainable things you can do as a consumer is to buy high quality products that are made in a sustainable way, and are built to last so you can buy fewer items and create less demand on natural resources – and that is exactly what we do with our range. We started out creating shelves, and our range of furniture has grown, and with the right care and treatment, our products will last for years.
Our timber is sustainably sourced, and it is also the highest grade joinery pine that has been kiln dried with a moisture content of less than 10%. This helps us to ensure that our products acclimatise to their new homes without warping or bowing, and will continue to look great in the longer term.
Responsible timber sourcing
The timber that we use for all our products is responsibly sourced, from certified and sustainably managed Northern Scandinavian Pine forests. We love the fact that it can be finished in a range of colours to give the right look to your home, but there’s more to it than that. We source our wood from forests that plant four trees for each one that is felled for use. In addition, the forest managers only allow a few trees to be removed from each section, and when trees have been harvested, the land isn’t harvested again for 30 years, to allow the habitat and the wildlife to adapt and recover.
Our wood finishes
There are a huge number of wood finishes for solid wood furniture that we could choose from to treat our furniture, but not all of them are great for the environment, or for humans that are using it. We’ve opted to use natural beeswax finish for our furniture, with a total of eight colour options, allowing you to get the right look for your home, without us needing to use less sustainable timber.
Natural beeswax is in plentiful supply, is non-toxic (it is often found in skincare products, and can even be safely swallowed by humans and animals!) and provides a finish that will continue to look great if customers repeat the treatment each year.
One Tree Planted
Despite the fact we source our timber from 100% sustainably managed forests, there is still a lot of work to be done to save the planet, so we wanted to go a step further. We use a lot of trees in our business, and although those forests are managed, there is more to do when it comes to looking after our planet. That’s why we have joined forces with the One Tree Planted programme, which aims to reforest and restore the biodiversity in projects in countries around the world.
The One Tree Planted programme works by planting one tree for every dollar that is donated, and we decided that for every tree that we use, we will plant ten, in order to help the environment further. In addition to working with the programme and committing to donate funds as part of our business, we’ve also added the ability to add trees to your order when you check out too – so you can make a donation with no hassle, and feel even better about your purchase.
Reducing, reusing, recycling
Although our business does have an impact on the environment, we take every step possible to reduce that impact as far as we possibly can. The main steps we take at the workshop (in addition to the usual recycling that you’d expect a business to do, of course) include our repurposing of wood offcuts and sawdust, and we’re also highlighting our packaging here too.
As you’d imagine, we have a huge amount of wood offcuts each month – around 400kg, although that represents only 1.2% of the wood we use. Having wood offcuts is an unavoidable side effect of our business, even as we do our best to use each piece of timber to create the maximum number of products from. Where we can’t use offcuts for smaller products for whatever reason, then we turn those leftovers into kindling. Our kindling is then made available to local homes and pubs that have fires and wood burning stoves.
Sawdust is another unavoidable waste product when you work with wood, and our business creates around 500 litres of sawdust per day, and while this is a lot, our extraction units collect it very efficiently. We distribute our sawdust for reuse as animal bedding in local farms, and after it has been used and disposed of there, it is broken down in manure piles and compost heaps. This means our sawdust is absorbed safely back into the environment, having been reused – not bad for a waste product!
We spent a long time working on our packaging solutions, with the intent that they would take care of our products (customer orders need to arrive in perfect condition, after all!) as well as having the lowest environmental impact possible. For our cardboard packaging, we chose a 75% recycled board that is 100% recyclable, and fully compostable after use. Of course, it isn’t a perfect solution for the environment, since the manufacturing process has an impact too, but we’re confident that our current cardboard packaging is currently the best we can do without compromising on performance.
We’ll hold our hands up and be completely honest – there is one aspect of our packaging that we do have to use plastic still. Our metal fixing strips need to be protected from damage while they are in transit, and currently, the best solution is bubble wrap. Of course, we encourage our customers to reuse this, or to add it to their local soft plastic recycling, until we are able to find a better solution.
Even though we’re doing our best in terms of sustainable packaging, we’re certainly not done, and we will continue to review other products. When we find better solutions for the environment that perform as well as our current ones, we’ll make the switch. .
Our final thoughts
Sustainability and the environment isn’t an afterthought when it comes to our business – it is an integral part of who we are and what we do, and always has been. We love the environment, and we want to do absolutely everything that we can to protect the Earth for our future generations. If you’re looking for brand new, solid wood furniture that is made in a sustainable way, and with what is best for the planet in mind at absolutely every step, you’ve found it.
Our sustainability promise then, is that we will continue to do the absolute best that we can for the environment, and as we identify opportunities that allow us to do even better, we will do those things too. The timber we use for our business will always come from sustainable sources, and we will continue to act in a responsible way – so you can not only love your purchase, but so that you can feel great about it too.