What is Sustainability? Defining Common Sustainability Terms
- February 23, 2022
- Anthony Bowie
At MiEN Company, we are driven by environmental sustainability, which is reflected in both the materials and designs we use for our products. By utilizing innovative design and sourcing high-quality raw and recycled materials, we create products that balance durability with comfort and style to ensure a long and useful life.
Our sustainability mission is part of our company’s core values, and we will continue to find ways to design spaces and products with sustainability in mind. As we talk more about the sustainable goals our company and products are striving for, there are several sustainability terms we will often use. To help you better understand the concepts, certifications, and materials we most commonly mention, we’ve created this glossary of sustainability terms.
Sustainability is the practice of designing and manufacturing products while minimizing negative effects on the environment and the health of each user.
Indoor Air Quality refers to air quality within buildings as it relates to the health of the building’s occupants. Products and materials with low or no chemical emissions contribute to improved indoor air quality.
Recyclable Materials are materials with the potential to be recycled and reformed into new materials and products, therefore diverted from the landfill.
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certified materials have been evaluated by a third-party entity and have been found to comply with the FSC standards for sustainably-harvested raw materials––the highest social and environmental standards on the market. FSC certification ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
CARB (California Air Resource Board) Compliant materials abide by strict air-quality standards originally set forth as a state-wide regulation in California affecting emissions of formaldehyde from raw composite wood materials (particleboard and MDF) and finished products made from these materials. CARB II compliant materials abide by even stricter regulations limiting formaldehyde emissions.
GREENGUARD Certification (including GREENGUARD Gold) refers to a product or material that has been tested and scientifically proven to have low chemical emissions, meaning that it is guaranteed to give off only low levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. This program helps manufacturers create––and helps buyers identify––interior products and materials with low chemical emissions, improving the indoor air quality where these products are used.
Polypropylene (PP) is a very durable thermoplastic polymer (a type of plastic) with a wide variety of applications. There are many environmental advantages to using polypropylene including its relatively low use of resources and energy to produce, no toxic waste or emissions from the manufacturing process, wide recyclability, and resistance to fatigue (durability).
Recycled or Recovered Material Content refers to the makeup of a product or component that is comprised of materials that have been diverted from the landfill and recycled––both pre- and post-consumer recycled materials. The amount of recycled material content found in a product or component is often expressed as a percentage. Materials such as polypropylene, steel, aluminum, and wood fibers can be recovered and recycled into new material, helping to preserve the environment by minimizing the collection of raw materials.
MiEN Company is committed to advancing our sustainability footprint by implementing practices and using materials that fit the considerations listed above––and more. By better understanding these sustainability terms, you can join the conversation about what it means to be a sustainable furniture company and help grow the movement to design with sustainability in mind.