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What Makes Office Furniture Green?
Green office furniture is made of recyclable and or renewable materials that reduce impacts to the environment. The percentage of those materials used varies, but the higher the percentage, the more environmentally friendly the furniture is. This green office furniture buying guide shows you what to look for when shopping for furniture, the associated costs of office products, and how the EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program makes government offices purchase office furniture and supplies.
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Type of Furniture to Look For
Look for the percentage of recyclable materials used and renewable or rapidly renewable materials use. Consider lifetime of the product, whether it meets air requirements or is GreenGuard certified, and whether the manufacturer is green. Do not buy wood, especially wood with unsafe stains or paints applied to it. Although not all wood is bad. Check into the forestry practices associated with the manufacturer. Knoll is an example of an industry leader in producing green, wood products. They also use recycled materials in some of their products.
One indicator of truly green office furniture is a GreenGuard certification. The GreenGuard Environmental Institute, GEI, is a non-profit that rates the indoor air quality of certain products. Some products have dangerous chemicals, allow for mold growth, or have other pollutants. They’re authorized developers certified by American National Standards Institute. Check out the rating system on their website at greenguard.org. The Denver office of the US EPA chose only GreenGuard certified office furniture for their new, green building. Ecowork EG is a great example of a company that is eco-friendly and produces safe, green office solutions.
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The Cost of Green Furniture
You can really spend as much or almost as little as you want when looking to buy green office furniture. There are $700 ergonomic, green office chairs. There are also green office chairs available for under $200 from Amazon or Costco. What you spend is entirely up to you. Use the Things to Look For section to help you choose the greenest items, then use price to make your final decision. You may end up spending a little more on something that is the best for the environment, but it will be worth the few extra dollars. Treehugger.com has loads of posts about buying green, including one about green office chairs, green laptops, and green desks and workstations.
If you’re on a very tight budget, go the reuse route. Buying used is always green. There are also many places to buy refurbished office furniture. It’s as good as new, cheaper than new, and your purchase is keeping it out of landfills. On the same note, instead of throwing out your used office furniture, sell it or give it away.
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EPA's Purchasing Program
The United States EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing program makes the US government buy green. This includes office supplies and furniture. Their website is chock full of very helpful information for consumers, individual or corporate, looking to buy green. Check out the EPP website at http://www.epa.gov/epp/.