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Crafting Sustainable Furniture: Our Journey and Vision

When furniture is not designed for longevity or recyclability, it’s most likely to end up in landfill. According to a 2019 report by the North London Waste Authority, 22 million pieces of furniture are discarded each year in the UK alone, and as much as 80% of it will go to landfill. Like fast fashion, fast furniture production prioritises output over material quality. The result - furniture that's easily susceptible to wear and tear. These pieces have a short lifespan, and due to their low retail cost, they’re much easier for us to replace than to repair.

Our goal is to design and craft furniture with the intention of it lasting a lifetime and beyond, by producing timeless designs married with quality materials.

That mission statement led us to take inspiration from antiques which have proven to stand the test of time. High quality materials are essential in ensuring a product's longevity. Oak, one of our favourite woods to work with, is prized for its strength and durability and is a truly timeless material for making furniture. Many antiques may also be made from other hardwoods such as walnut, mahogany and beech.

We firmly believe that beautiful, high quality furniture should be accessible to all. That’s why we’ll craft our furniture from hardwood at all times except for when it isn’t necessary. A dining table frame for example, can be made from a softwood such as pine as it’s less susceptible to wear and tear compared to the top of the table, which ought to be made from a strong hardwood such as oak. By using softwoods in areas where we can, we can save on material costs and subsequently offer our customers a better price.

 

Environmental commitments

There is a clear appetite among our staff to drive change through our business to reduce our environmental footprint. From reusing cardboard and plastic packaging when we dispatch our furniture and home decor, to using compostable and recyclable tools and materials, to sourcing from sustainable suppliers, and adopting new renewable technologies, we have a great opportunity to make sustainable changes within our company.

As a company, we understand that there's always more we can do to be more environmentally friendly. In recent years, we've begun using wood from sustainably managed forests. We source our wood from local UK suppliers who hold FSC and/or PEFC accreditation. You may have seen the FSC symbol on the back of reading books. FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council - a non-profit organisation founded in 1993. Its mission is to combat escalating deforestation and promote sustainable forest management. By partnering with suppliers who hold these types of accreditation, we ensure that the wood we use in production is:

  • 100% traceable - all of our wood comes from France, Italy, Finland, and Slovenia
  • Sourced from sustainably managed forests
  • Helping us become a more environmentally conscious business

These changes to our business have also positively impacted the well-being of our staff, as our vision strongly aligns with their core values and interests.

 

Distribution and packaging

Our furniture is produced in the UK and in other parts of Europe. We're constantly working towards crafting all of our furniture closer to home here in the UK. At the current time of writing, our dining tables, living room furniture, and some of our seating are produced right here in our Somerset workshop. These pieces are all meticulously crafted by our dedicated small team of expert craftsmen, who put their passion and skill into every single item we produce. Our co-founder, Andrew Wainhouse, is a visionary who wanted to keep the art of carpentry alive in the UK. His aim is to employ British talent and establish a self-sustaining business by crafting its own products.

Andrew Wainhouse is pictured here in black and white, crafting a dining table. Here at our company, we describe Andrew as a humble, honest man who prefers to work closely with the rest of our carpentry team in the production process.
Over the years, we have developed our packaging to be more recyclable, without compromising the safety of our furniture during transit. We use paper-based tape, recyclable foam coverings, and recycled cardboard in our packaging. We will continue to evolve our packaging to eventually become plastic-free.

The Wainhouse Team

Our dedicated team of professionals forms the heart and soul of our business. Their tireless efforts, creativity, and commitment have shaped the foundation of our company and pushed us towards our mission. That mission is to revolutionize the way we perceive and approach interior design.

Comprising a diverse range of talents and skill sets, our compact yet formidable team handles a broad spectrum of roles. This includes web design, marketing, furniture design, carpentry, customer service, finance, distribution, and administration. With such an extensive range of responsibilities, each member plays a crucial role in the smooth running and success of our business.

We firmly believe in promoting a work environment that fosters growth and opportunities. Therefore, we ensure flexible working hours and fair pay while maintaining high standards of working conditions. We are committed to creating an atmosphere where our staff can thrive, not just in their current roles, but also in their long-term career growth.

The opportunities for professional development within our team are vast. We encourage our team members to hone their skills and broaden their knowledge in their respective professions. More than that, we value their input in the strategic direction of the business and in our various projects. We believe that each voice can contribute to our collective growth and success.

Above: In this project, we collaborated with Design & Media students at Strode College, to create a short movie for our website.

 

Future steps

We're excited to see what the future has in store for us all. As we expand our team, we hope to participate in more projects that give back, such as volunteering in our local community and funding charities whose missions align with our core values and beliefs. When it comes to sustainability, we're by no means experts, but we're still learning and doing our best to become a more sustainable business that prioritizes our community and planet above all else.

“The good of the world is at the centre of our business model. Through leadership and our framework, we hope that The Wainhouse Co and its workforce continually self-evaluate and come up with new ideas on how we can improve.” - Alicia Wainhouse

 

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