To find Green, look with your heart

This article I just wrote on request from the Readers Digest produced Discovery Channel Magazine. The questions they asked me to answer were ”What is sustainable furniture?” and ”How can people make a sustainable choice?”. I think there is a more simple answer to this than one could expect – see below! I’d be happy to have your comments!

/Johan Berhin, green designer


I am a green designer. I design green things; for Green Furniture Sweden (my own furniture brand) and for other brands. But what is Green…? And why does Green make us happier…?

The world is running faster and faster. You can be reached everywhere, people expect quick answers, shareholders expect results this quarter. Is anyone prepared to think more into the future?

Well, the long-term will be back. We will (re)discover that slow has a meaning (“slow food” do make you feel better for example), that quality counts, and that there is something special about things that are made in a good way. You may call this a reaction to the fast world, you may call it a modern fallback to old values, or just listening to what your stomach says. To evaluate what is best for the environment, which is most green, is difficult. Even scientists, specialists in life cycle assessment, have a hard time here – how can we as consumers make this choice? But we can, and this because we are equipped with gut feelings. I am of the meaning that your gut feeling of what is your best green choice is better than any scientific evaluation. To explain why I want to give you my definition of green, of sustainable as a whole:

Things to treasure
It is your feelings that make you treasure. An object that speaks to you; by its history, by humor, by cleverness or by beauty, is something you will have a relation to, that you automatically will care for and value. This is why the things that you fall in love with will be the things that you keep for long – which is green!

Quality counts
People have always been attracted by quality – real materials, carefully done, with the right fitting and feeling. And quality lasts. Quality will age in a nice way and will make it possible for us to keep the treasured item. But quality also has a cost, these things are harder to achieve, but hey – having to choose, wait for and dream about also makes something more valuable to us. Buying one quality item instead of two non-lasting is green!

The new and smart
If something is not a radically improvement compared to what you already have, there is no point in changing. Keeping is green, but we can not keep everything forever – that would stop the world from developing (and it would be a bore!). Innovation, what we think is good and smart, is green!

Ecology and Authenticity
Of course, ecology must be there if we want to make a green choice. This is where it starts to be difficult though – what is ecological? And, to give an example from the furniture world, which is best: eco labeled cotton, local wool or recycled polyester. The answer will depend on the application, and also here we will be left to judge with our feelings, we do not have the means to determine the differences. Our feelings will here be guided by who we believe in – we can choose the local, the ones we know, the ones we believe are responsible. We can choose the eco labeled, where someone with competence has determined for us.

In many ways we are buying a story that speaks to us and which we believe in. And with our eyes and ears open and our minds switched on, we actually in this way make an ecological, a green decision.

So, when you now pass a shop window and fall in love with a beautiful piece of furniture – go in there and try it, feel it, smell it, feel the vibes around it – does it feel good, does it spring from a good source? If yes, and if your love lasts; go home and dream about it, save for it, and then, make that green decision that you will be happy about!

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