Sustainability for Stickley isn’t a new idea or popular trend; it’s a tradition that goes back to our founding. A central tenet of the American Arts and Crafts movement was respect and appreciation for nature, both its beauty and its necessity to human existence. Even as his work required the harvesting of lumber, Gustav Stickley wrote at length about the importance of forest conservation. And several issues of The Craftsman magazine celebrated the naturalists John Muir and John Burroughs, who were doing important work during that same period.
Of course, manufacturing and its impact on our world have evolved over the decades, and like everyone, Stickley must work to keep its practices ecologically sound, for the benefit of our planet and our customers.
Stickley partners with lumber suppliers certified by the Forest Stewardship Council who practice selective harvesting instead of clearcutting. Trees are chosen for cutting as they peak and before they can begin to decline and die, and new growth takes their place. As a result of methods like this, forests that were endangered in Gustav Stickley’s day are now healthy, renewable crops.
Once the lumber is in our hands, we ensure that waste is nearly zero. High-tech scanning devices allow us to pinpoint and trim away flaws in the wood with great accuracy, and scraps that are not usable are fed to our boiler along with our sawdust waste, where they are burned to heat our headquarters and factory in winter. Employees are also able to take home scraps to heat their homes.
We’ve also taken important steps away from the factory floor. Beginning in 2009, Sickley systematically replaced thousands of old, inefficient lighting fixtures with LED lighting in our offices, factories, and in the Stickley Furniture|Mattress showrooms we operate across six states. The effort cut our company-wide energy consumption by approximately 50 percent.
Products that last
Building our furniture from hardwoods is the first step in sustainability because of the wood’s natural carbon sequestration, or carbon storage. A growing tree absorbs a huge amount of carbon dioxide (a cubic meter of wood contains roughly a ton of CO2), and it doesn’t release that carbon back into the atmosphere until it decays and dies. By cutting that tree before it decays and turning it into furniture, we ensure that its carbon is locked away for a long period; meanwhile, new trees that grow to replace it continue to absorb CO2.
The quality of Stickley construction also makes an enormous difference! We are famous for our “overbuilding”, which results in strong, solid furniture that lasts for generations instead of getting tossed in a landfill. As we’re fond of saying, nothing is more sustainable than furniture built to last a lifetime.
Every day at Stickley, we consider the next innovation we can make to strengthen our sustainability. This season we’ve introduced a new range of recycled fabrics into our assortment of upholstery covers; ingeniously made from clothing discarded from the fashion industry, these fabrics are yet another high-quality alternative that helps reduce harmful waste. It’s an exciting addition to our company’s lifelong mission: to live, work, and create in harmony with nature.
Amanda Clifford, Director, The Stickley Museum
Paul Peters, Director of Upholstery Merchandising
Smedley, Tim. “Could wooden buildings be a solution to climate change?” BBC.com, July 24, 2019.