Green Hotelier Talking Point: Making Sustainability Part of the Design

Refurbs can be sustainable with upcycled furniture

Refurbs can be sustainable with upcycled furniture

Green Hotelier Talking Point

In a new Talking Point Blog Sally Huband, Director of Hotel Stuff Ltd. says there's a new way to make furniture sustainable.

In the busy world of hotels, bars and hospitality in general, moves are afoot towards embracing the ethics that surround all aspects of introducing sustainability into the blueprint of the business.

Increasing numbers of existing and prospective customers are now more than ever, likely to be ethical buyers who are discerning in where they spend their money and the environment in which they spend their time.

One approach to improving sustainability, particularly during a refurbishment, is breathing new life into recycled products, rather than buying new ones – including furniture.

A high quality finish and end result can be achieved through careful refurbishment and attention to changing trends in the hospitality market reflected in a wide choice of fabrics, soft furnishings and furniture styles. This has become much more common, not only because of the bite of the recession in recent years where upcycling proves a cost effective approach, but because it is environmentally friendly too. What could be better than calling a halt to waste units filled with discarded, perfectly good furniture?

This was the view taken by well known North Yorkshire property, the Aysgarth Falls Hotel. "Having a sustainable outlook is important to us at Aysgarth Falls Hotel so that we keep our impact on the environment to a minimum,” said Heather Swann, owner of the Aysgarth Falls. “While improving the hotel, we've installed a biomass boiler and almost all our lighting is now LED, to help us to reduce our energy usage and level of emissions.

“We also needed to furnish the whole hotel and came looking for contract furniture for our bar and outside terrace area. We bought recycled outdoor furniture and a variety of indoor tables and chairs which fit into the hotel beautifully. It was great to find a reliable supplier in Hotel Stuff Ltd. with a flexible offering of both recycled and custom new sustainable furniture. The great thing was that the appearance and quality of the furniture and materials we bought fitted our ethos very well at a price to suit our budget.”

Complementing huge stocks of recycled contract furniture, Hotel Stuff also commission new lines of custom built furniture made from soft Rubberwood derived from latex producing trees.

Once the latex has been drained from the tree, after a usage of around 26 – 30 years, the tree is considered to be waste and is felled with a new tree planted in its place. This presents an opportunity to create new durable furniture using wood that will not deplete vital resources and ensure a dual use for the tree that’s not just grown to create furniture. The concept of sustainability is well used by re-using something that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Rubber wood (or HeveaBrasiliensis) is a member of the maple family and is ideally suited to this purpose as it is a stable and close grain wood which means that it contains a low water content of between 8 – 10%. During the kiln drying process it is easily controlled and has very little shrinkage. This ensures minimal movement either during the manufacturing and assembly stage or as a finished product situated in a centrally heated environment or directly adjacent to a radiator.

As part of their sustainable strategy, sister company Pub Stuff Ltd sells a range of environmentally friendly sanitisers have been produced without the incorporation of ION 5, a chemical agent that is not only harmful to the environment but also gradually destroys the veneer and finish of the tables it’s used upon. Regular sanitisers are often described as ‘hard surface’ cleaners but most hoteliers won’t realise the extent of their destructive impact on varnish.

Hoteliers then have two ways of improving the sustainability of their heavy-use furniture, particularly in restaurants and bars.

More companies are catering to hotels' desires to find an alternative to a complete refit and disposal of old furniture. A trend for unique decorations in each room which often incorporates antique furnishings, alongside a desire to add memorable features is also fuelling a need for recycled or upcycled furniture.

Taylor's Classics offer restoration as an option for hoteliers seeking a new look for their old furniture. In their recent blog post they offer five reasons why it's healthier for your bottom line as well as the environment to find new options for classic furniture than simply tossing it in a skip.

Sustainability through the supply chain is a hot topic, and many companies are spending thousands to trace every element of their supply chain back to the source to ensure their environmental credentials. But more and more attention is turning to the ‘circular economy’ and a new way of ensuring sustainability is to look at the lifecycle of a product.

Sourcing truly sustainable furniture can be hard to do as Green Hotelier has recently reported, but what better way to ensure your furniture is as environmentally friendly as it can be, than by upcycling your old furniture, or refurbishing with recycled furniture?

Leave a Reply