June 1, 2008
green-ish bunk beds
I would do just about anything to get our kids to sleep well through the night, and that is how we came to buy a new bunk bed for them. They sleep better together in the same room and since the room is small, bunks were the way to go. But it couldn't be any old bunk - we were suckered for a gorgeous and fun design that is durable and well made.
We chose the Argington Uffizi. I liked that it is made from sustainable hard wood and birch ply. All materials, glues, stains and finishes are 100% non-toxic and are low VOC. I find that buying furniture that is completely eco-friendly is really challenging. You have to wonder if the materials sustainable, are there any components, glues or finishes that are toxic or off-gas? If it is an upholstered item there is the big problem of fire retardants (also a problem in mattresses).
Speaking of which, we had to get new mattresses for the bunk bed. The requirements were for a mattress that is thinner than the one we owned. We didn't want our little guy too high up on a huge mattress poised over the safety railing! I took this opportunity to invest in healthier, more natural mattresses. I've written before about the choices in finding an eco-friendly mattresses for children. I chose to purchase from a local company, European Sleepworks, since I was in a hurry and they had what I needed in stock.
It all sounds like an ideal purchase, but one of the unforeseen surprises was the amount of packaging waste delivered with our new bed. It was shipped flat in 5 enormous boxes. Luckily my husband was clever enough to put it together. When he finished, we had so much leftover styrofoam and cardboard that our garage was full! You know how I despise styrofoam. Since there is no way to recycle it I drove it to the dump (sad as I was to do it). We have a big minivan and it was loaded to the gills with it! And it pains me to say that I later realized I could have taken it all over to Scrap, a creative arts reuse center where they accept all kinds of materials and artists find ways to use them. The next day I filled the minivan once again with piles of cardboard, which I lugged over to our recycling center.
I understand that companies must ship the products to arrive without any damage, but I really had to wonder if there could be a better way. I felt like any good eco aspects of the bed were negated by all the packaging. Did I mention the boxes indicated the bed was produced in China? I'm not trying to insinuate that we are not loving the new bed. It is just that I am not familiar with buying "real" furniture (more of an Ikea home, here) and am surprised by the packaging that goes into making sure it arrives in good condition.
In the end, the bed is a hit and the kids love it and are sleeping pretty well. We love it, for sure. I just think I will have to repent for the waste for a long time.
Check out all this styrofoam! It's packed back to front in a big minivan. The cardboard was just as large a load the next day, if not larger. Good grief!