5 Sustainable Hospitality Furniture Materials (& 3 That Aren't)

There’s a color at your hotel that more guests care about. 

It doesn’t matter what your overall design scheme or color palette is, this color can make all the difference in how they’ll feel about lodging at your hotel. 

The color? 

Green. 

blog_sustainabilty

From high-efficiency utilities to reducing the frequency linens (towels & bedspreads) are washed, many guests care about the impact a hotel has on the environment.

Furniture manufactured with sustainable materials offers a unique opportunity to appeal to the “green” guest and give them a stay to feel good about.

 

THE CASE(GOODS) FOR SUSTAINABLE HOSPITALITY FURNITURE

Consumers are now more environmentally conscious than ever. From the products they buy to the brands that make them, consumers place priority on supporting causes and businesses that align with their values.  

And they’re putting their money where their mouth is. 

A recent study by environmental tech company GreenPrint found that nearly two-thirds of Americans are willing to pay more for products and services that are eco-friendly and sustainable. 

Integrating sustainable furniture materials into hotel casegoods can mean the difference to a guest as to where they’ll hang their hat at night. 

 

6 SUSTAINABLE HOSPITALITY FURNITURE MATERIALS

When choosing hotel furniture that’s environmentally friendly, here are five materials to consider: 

  1. Organic fabrics
  2. Bamboo
  3. Sustainable wood 
  4. Cork
  5. Reclaimed materials
  6. Stone 

 

Organic Fabrics

Made from one of the greenest farming methods, organic fabrics contain no harmful chemicals or non-biodegradable coatings. Unlike synthetic fibers, organic fabrics’ impact on the environment is minimal, even when disposed of. 

The most common organic fabrics include:

  • Cotton
  • Wool 
  • Silk
  • Hemp 

 

Bamboo

Considered one of the most sustainable building materials, bamboo is: 

  • Fast-growing
  • Self-regenerating
  • Abundant
  • Strong

Through modern processing techniques, bamboo can be used for a variety of purposes in hotel furniture, providing a wood-like (bamboo is actually a grass) substance for boards, panels, and even fabric. 

What’s more, bamboo has tensile strength that’s stronger than steel, making it durable and long lasting. 

 

Wood

This one is a little tricky, as not all wood is considered sustainable. 

The type of wood we’re referring to is certifiably sourced from managed forests. The main tenant of responsibly harvesting lumber is that it’s done in such a way that an ecosystem isn’t decimated. Trees felled for lumber in a managed forest are:

  • Selected carefully
  • Harvested in limited amounts
  • Replaced 

Common species of wood grown in sustainable forests include:

  • Pine 
  • White ash
  • Oak
  • Maple

Making Sustainable Wood Go Farther 

Veneers are an easy way to make wood go further in hotel casegoods. 

Wood veneer furniture is made with a thin layer of real wood (usually around.6mm) that is bonded to a less expensive piece of manufactured wood, such as plywood. Using less natural wood as the core of the furniture reduces its environmental impact without sacrificing your desired aesthetic.  

Interested in learning more about wood veneers? Check out how it stacks up against laminate furniture:

New call-to-action

 

CORK

Going beyond keeping a good bottle of wine fresh, cork is a renewable resource that enhances a casegood’s eco-friendliness. 

A carefully harvested bark, cork is lightweight and soft, yet durable. Because of its pock-marked and smooth appearance, this material can bring a more natural aesthetic to hotel furniture. It’s also a great insulator for heat and sound. 

Cork can be integrated into pieces such as:

  • Headboards
  • End tables and nightstands 
  • Chairs (even providing some cushioning) 
  • Benches 

Stone

Another tricky one, stone comes close to being considered unsustainable. 

Why?

Once stone is taken from its native environment it’s gone forever -- you can’t grow stone. And once shaped, it stays that way. 

What keeps stone out of the unsustainable category is that it’s naturally occurring and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. If introduced back into the environment, stone only takes up space. 

Stone used in hotel casegoods includes:

  • Marble 
  • Granite
  • Quartzite 
  • Limestone
  •  

Reclaimed Materials

A recycling method of sorts, reclaimed materials give a second life to items that are destined for the garbage dump or already sitting in a junkyard.  

There’s a wide variety of materials ripe for reclaiming, such as

  • Unfinished wood
  • Metals -- aluminum, steel, copper 
  • Glass
  • Ceramics
  • Stone

3 NON-SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE MATERIALS TO STEER CLEAR OF

On the other side of the coin, there are casegood materials that might be enough to make a potential guest reconsider taking a room at your hotel. 

Non-sustainable materials to avoid in hotel casegood design include:

  1. Plastics
  2. Finished wood
  3. Treated Fabrics 

Plastics 

The poster child for non-sustainable products, plastics are one of the last materials an environmentally conscious guest wants to see in their hotel room. 

Plastics have an adverse impact on the environment. Made from polymers derived from petroleum (a fossil fuel), plastics require a lot of energy and resources to make. And their chemical composition and durability make it impossible for them to break down -- that’s why the toothbrush you tossed 20 years ago still looks like it did the day you got rid of it. 

While certain plastics can be recycled, they’re not the kind often used in furniture.

 

Finished Wood

Again, wood proves to be tricky. 

What makes finished woods unsustainable are their coatings. Some finishes contain toxins that are dangerous to humans and the environment. When decomposing in a landfill, those same toxins can leach into the groundwater supply without proper precautions. 

While environmentally friendly finishes and lacquers exist, they’re uncommon and cost more. 

 

Fabrics 

As fabric is easily damaged or stained, many types used in furniture production are coated with chemical protectants to make them last. Other fabrics include synthetics that improve their durability -- when disposed of after years of heavy use, they don’t biodegrade. 

Unfortunately for the environmentally conscious guest, these fabrics are hard to avoid in everyday life -- they’re everywhere, from the clothes you wear to your bedsheets. 

To keep your hotel as green as possible, avoid these non-sustainable fabrics:

  • Polyester
  • Acrylic
  • Nylon
  • Faux leather  

 

SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE MATERIALS FOR A GREENER HOTEL & HAPPIER GUEST

Environmentally concerned guests are going to be a regular at your hotel. They may even become the majority of those you serve. 

Sustainable hotel furniture lets you meet your guests’ needs without sacrificing quality or compromising their values.

 

Create Furniture Both You & Your Guests Will Love

Explore how our value engineering process help you design hotel casegoods that meet all your guests’ expectations:

New Call-to-action