One of my favorite lifestyle magazines features a monthly section titled "New Uses for Old Things." In this economy, many of you have probably already spent time eyeing the more well-loved items in your dining room and thinking about ways to repurpose them. So in this final blog of our eco-friendly series, we wanted to expand the sustainable dining room furniture discussion to include two materials that have endless new-life potential: reclaimed lumber and stainless steel.
The demand for reclaimed lumber gained momentum in the 1980s and has yet to slow down. This was a natural avenue for dining room furniture makers to take due to growing concerns about the environmental impact of wood harvesting (which you don't need to worry about with the Malaysian rubberwood Dinette.com uses, as mentioned in our last blog) as well as the declining quality of much new lumber. The "deconstruction movement," as this cottage industry has been dubbed, involves the careful dismantling of old bridges, barns, warehouses, and other wood structures. All aspects of the buildings—from the flooring to the windows—can be reused to make kitchen furniture. Wood reclaimers also salvage wood from river and lake bottoms, where many logs sank years ago as they were floated from the forests where they were cut to lumber mills.
It's easy to understand the popularity of reclaimed wood furniture. All dining room pieces created from it will have a unique appearance. Also, companies within the industry claim an assurance of strength and durability. They say that the wood's previous exposure to changes in humidity ensures its stability over newer woods.
The down side to using reclaimed lumber as a material for your dining room set is its increasing expense. In addition to the ever-diminishing supply of this product, rescuing reclaimed wood requires a lot of work. It must be dismantled, sorted, and prepared for reuse (including removing embedded metal, etc.).
Environmentalists claim that stainless steel is a sterling example of a recycling success story that just keeps getting better. Most stainless steel sold in today's market is made up of at least 50% recycled stainless steel material, and it is expected that this percentage will continue to rise. In looking around at your dining room furniture, consider that the stainless steel legs on your kitchen table probably had a previous life as a sink or silverware. Neat, huh?
If there comes a time when you decide that there's no more reuse in your home for your table, you don't have to take the steel to a landfill wasteland. This versatile, durable metal is 100% recyclable. Even more good news: stainless steel products require little to no toxic chemicals like paint, cleaners, solvents, and protective coatings throughout their lifetime. These are just a few of stainless steel's planet-friendly stats that make this metal take on a whole new shine for furniture buyers.