How Furniture Affects the Environment
Every time you buy a new product, you're making an important choice about your environmental impact. For example, if you buy an Adirondack chair for your patio, that chair has already undergone quite a journey to reach your home – and its environmental footprint has grown with each step of that journey.
To illustrate how one piece of furniture makes a global environmental impact, let's follow a wooden Adirondack chair along its journey.
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The journey starts in the forest,
where wood is harvested to build the chair.
Logging for commercial wood and paper products is a leading cause of deforestation around the world.
Deforestation contributes up to 15% of annual global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Why? Trees naturally store carbon and then release CO2 when they die.
Forests provide a home to 70% of Earth's plants and land animals. Deforestation is contributing to an extinction rate that is 100–1,000 times higher than the rate 200,000 years ago, based on fossil records.
The wood is transported to a factory, where it takes shape as a chair.
Factories are a major source of air and water pollution, which pose severe public health risks.
Among cities with at least 100,000 inhabitants in low- and middle-income countries, 98% do not meet World Health Organization (WHO) air quality standards. Only 56% of cities in high-income countries do not meet WHO standards.
Approximately 6.5 million deaths are linked to air pollution every year. Nearly 90% of those air-pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, with about 2 out of 3 deaths occurring in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific, according to WHO.
Assuming the chair is manufactured overseas, the next stage of its journey takes it onto a cargo ship.
About 90% of world trade is conducted through overseas shipping — a 400% increase in the past 45 years.
Pollution from ships costs as much as $330 billion per year in lung and heart-disease-related health costs.
Shipping is responsible for about 3% of global CO2 emissions, which would make it the 6th-highest emitting country in the world. That's a higher emissions percentage than Canada, Mexico, France, and the UK.
Once the chair reaches land,
it's loaded onto a commercial truck.
Trucks in the U.S. consume about 2.7 million barrels of fuel per day and emit 530 million metric tons of CO2.
Overall, the transportation sector contributes 26% of the United States' greenhouse gas emissions.
The chair finally finds its home in your home.
Once the chair reaches the end of its useful life, it ends up in a landfill.
According to the EPA's most recent Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) report, the U.S. generated 258 million tons of waste in 2014:
89 million tons of MSW were recycled or composted.
2.6 million tons of wood were recycled.
136 million tons of MSW were landfilled.
11 million tons of wood were placed in landfills.
When landfill waste decomposes,
it emits methane and CO2.
Methane is 25 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.
More than 20% of U.S. methane emissions come from landfill waste, making it the 2nd-largest industrial source of methane emissions.
There's an eco-friendly alternative.
You can dramatically reduce your environmental footprint along each step of the journey by choosing HDPE (high-density polyethylene) outdoor furniture.
HDPE is a durable plastic widely used to make:
Laundry detergent containers
Using recycled HDPE to build furniture prevents logging and deforestation. Plus, we plant a tree for every piece of furniture sold on trexfurniture.com!
Built in the USA
All Trex Outdoor Furniture is manufactured in the U.S. (Syracuse, Indiana). We reclaim 99% of our factory waste and recycle it back into the manufacturing line.
Trex Outdoor Furniture sources HDPE materials from within the United States, which eliminates CO2 emissions related to overseas import shipping.
HDPE furniture can last years longer than wood furniture. It's non-absorbent, doesn't rot, splinter, crack, or peel. You can also clean it with soap and water!
HDPE lumber consists of at least 95% HDPE, which means 95% of the chair's weight is recyclable and will stay out of landfills!