Simran Sethi and Sarah Smarsh are writing a series on the surprising journeys of everyday things. They will be posting previews on Green Options before launching the posts on Huffington Post. Here’s a sneak peek at the desk you threw away.
How can a mahogany desk, made of slow-growing hard wood plundered from the Amazon, be eco-friendly?
When it’s re-used.
Often, the greenest consumer route is not buying new products made with Earth-friendly methods but rather scoring used products made with traditional, possibly heinous methods. Reduce, reuse, then recycle.
This rule of thumb certainly applies to office furniture. Unlike energy-consuming products such as appliances, furniture is somewhat innocuous to the environment during that period between factory and landfill known as “in use.” The impacts on indoor air quality, however, are like Britney: Not that innocent. Your cubicle accoutrements off-gas volatile organic compounds from glues, varnishes and sealants. That new furniture smell is a source of ear, nose and throat irritation, nausea and dizziness. But once your desks and chairs have been brought into the world, they should be encouraged to live long lives.
Read more on The Huffington Post.
Thanks to the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Lacey Johnston for research assistance.