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sustainable roundups: 10 dining chairs for people and the planet

in sustainable roundups

What makes a chair sustainable? As always, the word sustainability embeds multiple meanings that range from a mindful use of natural resources to social & ethical considerations.

In this episode of Sustainable Roundups, we’re discovering 10 sustainable dining chairs taken from riivin, the sustainable interior design directory I curate.

upcycled plastic

Plastic pollution is one of the most urgent environmental problems of our times. The design industry is experimenting with many ways to reuse plastic waste, and chairs are by far one of the most popular options.

From plastic bottles and fishing nets, to household trash and industrial waste, many different types of plastic waste have been transformed into chairs. Another important aspect to consider is whether or not the chair can be disassembled in its components, as this allows recycling the same materials over and over again.

Product selection:

Recycled plastic chairs in a restaurant design.
Credit: Fritz Hansen
Recycled plastic chair on a beach.
Credit: Wehlers
Recycled plastic chairs.
Credit: Emeco

upcycled plastic - other uses

Besides a solid plastic chair, plastic waste can be reused in other ways. For example, the “plastic paste” can be mixed with wood chips, that will give an interesting texture to the final product. Another option is turning plastic waste into felt which – among its many applications – can indeed become the seat of a chair!

Product selection:

Plastic & wood chairs around a table in a home.
Credit: IKEA
Felt plastic chairs in a cafe design.
Credit: Vepa

natural materials

In principle, solid wood and natural fibres are sustainable materials. What makes the biggest difference here are sourcing and making details. Is the wood coming from sustainably managed forests? Are the natural fibres sourced in the respect of the environment? Is production also helping local communities? These are some of the aspects that make a chair sustainable beyond the material it’s made of.

Other elements to consider are the availability of spare parts to repair it, the carbon footprint of the making process as well as a company’s support to environmental regeneration programs.

Product selection:

Solid wood chair in a home setting at breakfast time.
Credit: Takt
Solid wood chairs styling around a table.
Credit: Hamran

waste materials

Repurposing waste as a raw material is one of the guiding principles of circular design. To mention some examples, materials like leftover beech veneer, discarded textiles and recycled paper can all be turned into a chair!

Speaking of circularity, another important step towards a circular model comes from offering renting and buyback options, which basically divert a furniture piece from going to landfill at the end of its lifecycle.

Product selection:

Chair with recycled wood veneer styled next to a table.
Credit: Mater
Top down view of chairs in an empty room.
Credit: Planq
Recycled newspaper chairs in a rustic interior.
Credit: Officine Tamborrino


Moodboard showing 10 sustainable dining chairs.
  1. NO2 Recycle - by Fritz Hansen
  2. R.U.M. - by Wehlers
  3. 1 inch reclaimed - by Emeco
  4. Cross - by Takt
  5. ODGER - by IKEA
  6. Felt - by Vepa
  7. Nova - by Mater
  8. No Smoking - by Officine Tamborrino
  9. Ubu - by Planq
  10. Under - by Hamran

Head over to riivin for more sustainable interior design inspiration!

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