AT on: Local Water, Local Furniture?

AT on: Local Water, Local Furniture?

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 7, 2007

Isn't it funny how simplest things make the biggest difference? Over at The Kitchen, they blogged an article in the food section last week about a few restaurants switching from bottled to local tap water: The Rise of Tap Water.

While we face a host of challenges in order to preserve our environment, and some may feel that the most important work is being done at the G8 Summit right now, we believe that all politics is local. With Alice Waters passing on bottled water from Italy, in favor of lightly carbonating her own filtered tap water, she not only cut down on packaging and shipping waste, she also set an example that others are now following. And she's not the President.

And it got us thinking about our own love of furnishings and design.

It often seems hard to heal the environment when starting at home. Beyond the typical exchange for recycled paper products and non-toxic cleaners, as well as turning lights off when you're not home, what do you do about furniture? Although we blogged a fairly "green" sofa from Crate and Barrel yesterday, this is hardly going to work for everyone.

So what's the bottled water lesson equivalent for furnishings?

At root, it's "buy local" and cut down on shipping and packaging damage.

But does it make any sense to say that I am going to now try to buy a sofa made in the New York area? How about my dining table? And my light fixtures? Certainly, with a now global economy, rolling back the clock to look for local manufacturing seems untenable.

Or does it?

A great deal of the damage that is caused to our environment comes from our complex and mammoth dependence on cheaper, foreign manufacturing. We stared to think about how we might go about furnishing our house locally and came up with the following ideas.

1. Of course, eBay, Craigslist and our own classifieds allow you to find antiques and used furniture locally, which is really an amazing new wrinkle in our economy if you think about it.

2. There are a good deal of small furniture designers and manufacturers in the Northeast if you're looking for wood furniture. From Vermont craftspeople to all those companies building furniture in the Brooklyn Navy Yards, there really is a thriving local business.

3. In other materials, there are a good number of furniture companies in the area too. Desiron builds in New Jersey and the Cherner Chair company does all their work in upstate New York and Connecticut.

4. Not far from New York, we believe that Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams still build their furniture in North Carolina.

This is just our starter list for furniture, but it got us thinking that if LOCAL makes as big a difference to the environment as we think it does, there really does seem to be a good number of options.

We haven't tackled lighting or RUGS or paint yet, but we should give it a go. And there should be a special icon for local products, just like local apples get juicy stickers.

And I'd like to know what you think.

Do you think it's possible to translate the environmental impact of the food business to furnishings?
Do you think it's possible for us to find all the RAW materials we need for furnishings in the US anymore?

And finally, who do you think will be the Alice Waters of the home design world?

This inquiring editor wants to know.

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