The Best Sources For Eco-Friendly Outdoor Furniture

Shopper's Guide

Yay for springtime! I am reveling in the glorious weather today in New York. (And clearly everyone else is, too, given the fact that every bench in a 5-block radius from my office is occupied.) The season of outdoor relaxing and entertaining is upon us. If you're looking for eco-friendly outdoor furniture, this guide should put you on the right track:

What To Look For: The three types of materials that work best for eco-friendly outdoor furniture are:

  • Hard-wearing, durable woods like western red cedar, northern white cedar, and teak that are FSC-certified and come from sustainably managed forests.
  • Recycled plastic, or high density polyethylene (HDPE). Recycled plastic furniture is durable, water resistant, and low maintenance, and unlike wood furniture, it won't rot, splinter or crack and doesn't require staining, sealing or painting, and is basically impervious to all types of weather.
  • Stainless steel, particularly if it includes a higher percentage of recycled content.

Recycled Plastic Furniture

Loll: Since 2005 Loll has been the leader in modern recycled plastic outdoor furniture. All of their furniture is made from 100% recycled polyethylene (sourced primarily from discarded milk jugs) and designed and produced at the Hawks Boots Sustainable Manufacturing Facility in Duluth, Minnesota. Their business practices are solid, too: they recycle 90% of the waste from their manufacturing processes, and all of their furniture is 100% recyclable. According to their website, for every pound of weight in a Loll chair there are an estimated 8 recycled milk jugs being used, saving natural resources and reducing land-fill waste. Loll furniture are available through their website, but exclusive designs can also be purchased at Room & Board and Design Within Reach.

Trex: Trex, the makers of recycled plastic decking, molding, and trim products, recently launched a collection of outdoor furniture manufactured from 90 percent recycled content, including post-consumer materials like milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles.

Poly-Wood: another main manufacturer of classic outdoor furniture made from recycled milk jugs, with an extensive collection to choose from. As of right now, Poly-Wood furniture can only be purchased through one of their national dealers.

Siesta Poly Outdoor Furniture: 100% recycled poly lumber furniture, including benches, gliders, bistro sets and tables, made from recycled HDPE milk jugs and water bottles.

Wood and Stainless Steel Furniture

Haskell: Haskell manufactures stainless steel outdoor furniture using domestically sourced type 304 EAF stainless steel, which is the #1 recycled material in the USA. (Close to 82 million tons annually, apparently, more than paper, aluminum, and glass combined.) Haskell's steel contains up to 85% recycled content and is strong, non-flammable, low maintenance, and extremely durable.

Crate & Barrel: C&B's has a few exclusive eco-friendly outdoor furniture collections, including the Mendocino Collection, made of FSC-certified eucalyptus wood and stainless steel; the Arbor Collection, made with FSC-certified roble wood; and the Regatta Collection, made from solid teak harvested from plantations working with TFT, a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible forest conservation.

ReForest Teak: RT uses only teakwood harvested from their sustainably managed hardwood plantations in Costa Rica. Their manufacturing base employs local craftsman to create and build their furniture collection with traditional fine woodworking practices, including solid teak dowel mortise and tenon joinery for stability and meticulous hand sanding.

(Image: Cricket Chair from Loll)