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  • Writer's pictureJen Nickel

Say no to disposable furniture

Investing in quality furniture that will stand the test of time.

In a culture of faster, cheaper and more, we've become addicted to plastic shopping bags, disposable dishes, and cheap furniture. For little investment, we can go to our nearest Ikea, Target or Walmart and pick up a trendy piece of furniture that we'll keep around until it no longer serves it's purpose or the fad is over, only to dump it at the curb and replace it with another piece. This furniture is so inexpensive, it's quicker, easier and cheaper to buy a new piece than to repair the old one. This is obviously having a negative impact on our planet. But have you thought of the human health and safely implications of this cheaply made furniture? If you haven't already, check out the Netflix series "Broken".

Thankfully, there are some people out there who are looking for change and taking a different approach.

J Berry Woodcraft, in London ON, is fighting a culture of disposable furniture with more sustainable approach.

Through careful selection of materials, emphasis on quality, and attention to environmental impact, this small business is making a big step in the right direction.

sustainable quality wood furniture
A solid wood dresser made by J Berry Woodcraft

Here is more from Jeremiah and Angela Berry, owners of J Berry Woodcraft:

"J Berry Woodcraft began in 2017 with a vision to provide our corner of Southwestern Ontario with a local and sustainably minded option for custom cabinetry and furniture. When we decided to take the plunge and begin our cabinetry business, it was important for us to create a product that was crafted using local materials and made entirely in-house, so we had control over every aspect of the build, and could be confident we knew exactly what went in to each piece, their quality, and their durability.  

We were fortunate to acquire some family antiques to furnish our first home and loved how they came with stories of our relative’s lives and travels. Our vision as we began building furniture for our clients was to follow that model - to build well made, solid wood pieces with classic techniques that would withstand trends and decades of family life, and become an heirloom passed down, like a modern antique. In truth, it’s nothing earth shattering - it’s the way furniture had always been built, and the way homes had always been furnished, but somewhere along the line in the last half century, our culture shifted away from these priorities toward a cheaper, faster, trend following model of furniture building that is beautiful today, but in the landfill within a couple years. 

We were heartbroken, challenged, and affirmed watching the series Broken (Deadly Dressers) on Netflix recently.

We were heartbroken, challenged, and affirmed watching the series Broken (Deadly Dressers) on Netflix recently. It’s a fascinating look into the environmental and social impacts fueled by our furniture buying decisions. We are fortunate to be surrounded by an abundance of natural resources here in Southwestern Ontario, and equally fortunate that these resources are highly managed. For our cabinetry and furniture alike, we choose locally harvested wood because this process is well regulated to ensure the sustainability and bio-diversity of our landscape here in Southwestern Ontario. We use water-based finishes, and, depending on the piece, certified domestic plywoods that are made without many of the harmful chemical properties that are found in cheaply imported plywoods and composite materials (the basis of any flat-pack product in the market). 

We’ve been really humbled time and time again when we hear from clients who want to invest in their forever home and ask us to build their kitchen, or are starting a family and ask us to build a crib, or a table for their family to gather at each day. We’re hopeful the tides will slowly shift to a more sustainable model. As we look forward to the future, we are most looking forward to connecting with people who catch the vision of what we are trying to do, and want to jump on board, be that as a client or a fellow builder. We've partnered with a program called Ontario Wood who supports local businesses that are committed to use sustainably sourced indigenous Ontario hardwoods. There are dozens of builders and companies who have committed to doing likewise, and a directory can be found on their website if you're interested in finding someone local."

- Jeremiah and Angela Berry

sustainable solid wood coffee table
sustainable solid wood furniture joinery
sustainable solid wood furniture details

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