Meet Our Sustainability Criteria: AURA Core 4
At AURA, we believe that sustainability is the key to a better future - but without the greenwashing that comes with it.
And we need to be honest with ourselves: the furniture and home decor industries have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on climate change.
Consumers are already starting to catch on that many furniture brands participate in practices that give the appearance of sustainability - even though at their core, they don't practice what they preach.
Unfortunately, the growing demand for sustainable products and the potential for increased profits causes some brands to bend the rules about what sustainability actually entails.
How Brands Bend The Sustainability Rules
Here are just a few ways that furniture brands try to bend the rules about sustainability:
Greenwashing is a marketing strategy used by companies to make their products appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are. This includes the use of buzzwords ("eco-friendly", "sustainable", "non-toxic", etc), vague claims, or misleading certifications to create a false impression of sustainability.
Some brands may selectively pursue certifications that are easier to achieve or have less stringent requirements. This allows them to claim sustainability credentials without making significant changes to their business practices.
Inadequate Labor Practices
While a brand may claim to prioritize "sustainability", they may overlook the importance of fair labor practices in their supply chain. This can result in worker exploitation and other unethical practices that hamper the brand's overall sustainability efforts.
Flawed Lifecycle Analysis
Brands may emphasize the sustainable aspects of their products while ignoring or downplaying other aspects that have a negative environmental impact. For example, they might highlight the use of recycled materials but fail to mention the energy-intensive manufacturing processes or the product's end-of-life disposal.
The Biggest Contributors to Climate Change
Deforestation: The production of wooden furniture and home decor items relies on timber, often sourced from forest logging. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), up to 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions result from deforestation, making it a major contributor to climate change. The loss of forests also destroys natural habitats, threatens biodiversity, and disrupts water cycles.
Energy Consumption: The manufacturing process for furniture and home decor items consumes considerable energy, with a significant portion derived from fossil fuels. The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that in 2020, approximately 84% of the world's energy supply came from fossil fuels, which emit greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.
Transportation Emissions: The global nature of the furniture and home decor industries means that products are often shipped over long distances. According to the International Transport Forum (ITF), the global freight sector produced around 8% of total CO2 emissions in 2015, with this figure expected to rise by 160% by 2050 if current trends continue.
Resource Extraction: The production of furniture and home decor items often depends on the extraction of natural resources, such as metals, minerals, and textiles. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) states that resource extraction and processing contribute to over 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90% of biodiversity loss and water stress.
Waste Generation: The short lifespan of many furniture and home decor products results in high levels of waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2018, the United States generated 12.2 million tons of furniture and furnishings waste, with only 2.2 million tons (18.2%) being recycled.
What We're Doing Differently - the AURA Core 4
It's critical to point out that achieving complete sustainability as a brand can be a daunting task due to the variety of factors that we discussed above.
Things like supply chain components, cost considerations, and a lack of clear guidelines all contribute to brands feeling overwhelmed about tackling sustainability as a whole.
That's why at AURA, we're focused on partnering with brands who meet our four pieces of sustainability criteria.
We've developed this criteria to help the industry as a whole move forward to more sustainable practices, and to celebrate the brands who are mindfully developing products that help the world become a better place.
Criteria #1: Responsibly Sourced Materials
AURA takes pride in partnering with suppliers who responsibly source at least 75%+ of their materials in production. We communicate closely with our partners to ensure that raw materials come from sustainable sources, like well-managed forests and recycled sources.
This approach helps to minimize our environmental impact and promote responsible forestry practices.
Criteria #2: Fair Labor Practices
Our partners provide a safe, inclusive, and ethical work environment for all employees.
They strictly adhere to fair labor practices, ensuring that workers receive fair wages, safe working conditions, reasonable working hours, no forced or child labor, and equal opportunities that include training and development.
By valuing employees and their well-being, partners not only create a positive work culture but also contribute to the economic growth and stability of the communities they operate in.
Criteria #3: Active Carbon Emission Reduction
Our partners' commitment to sustainability extends to minimizing their carbon footprint as much as possible. Our suppliers have found ways to reduce carbon emissions throughout their manufacturing process by implementing energy-efficient technologies (e.g. solar energy sources), upcycling or recycling manufacturing waste, securing eco-friendly transportation (optimizing transportation routes, consolidating shipments), and investing in renewable energy sources.
Criteria #4: Circular Economy Friendly
AURA embraces the concept of a circular economy, where waste is minimized, and resources are reused and recycled. Our partners' furniture is designed with durability, longevity, and recyclability in mind, ensuring that products can be easily repaired, refurbished, or repurposed at the end of their lifecycle.
By having a circular approach, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future where waste is transformed into valuable resources.
In Addition To Our Criteria...
In addition to our supplier criteria, we also give back in two ways:
10 Trees Planted for Every Order
We're committed to offsetting our carbon output as much as possible. By planting 10 trees for every order at no cost to the customer, we:
- Provide additional biodiversity
- Help soil conservation
- Help water conservation
- Contribute to communities negatively impacted by deforestation
As of May 2023, the trees we plant in partnership with GoodAPI contribute to restoring rainforests in Madagascar, an area drastically impacted by deforestation.
Carbon-Offset Shipping and Deliveries
Shipping is a complex topic, and there's no perfect solution. However, by partnering with freight companies like Freight Club, we're able to at least offset the emissions that are generated from shipping.
We also work to reduce our warehouse footprint by decreasing the number of stops a product takes to get to the final destination.