How the Cotswold Company is making sustainable furniture the future
As we mark Earth Day, meet the CEO of a UK company creating sustainable furniture that puts style and craftsmanship at the heart of your home
by: Elaine Hunter
19 Apr 2021
Sustainable furniture with elegance and craftsmanship from The Cotswold Company Photo: The Cotswold Co
Sustainable furniture created with care for the planet’s resources, designed as a piece to cherish, is something we can all aspire to. Since the pandemic began, many of us have become acutely aware of the simple pleasures life has to offer. We’ve realised our homes are our havens. We’ve unearthed the hidden gems of being in nature and discovered a renewed love for our surroundings.
And that means we’ve also become more aware of our impact on the planet. Finding ways to change how we live and trying to making a positive difference.
One of Britain’s best-loved furniture stores, The Cotswold Company, has been leading the way for 25 years. Their furniture is known for its craftsmanship and unique design, imbued with a sense of five-star quality. But it’s the planet-friendly ethos behind their sustainable furniture that is making headlines recently.
Sustainability and synergy between renewables and durable furniture are at the heart of the company. They plant a tree for every one they use, and have put their own spin on Black Friday, turning it into Green Friday.
A family-focused worldview
The Cotswold Company’s chief executive Ralph Tucker, explains: “Environmental issues are at the forefront of people’s minds right now, especially after lockdown as we have all spent more time at home in our gardens, with our kids; so people are thinking differently.
“Our children are a driving force too. My sons are eight and 11 and many of the projects they have been doing at school are about the environment. Children are really aware about what’s going on and thinking about the future. I’ve now got an electric car – and my son was a big part of that decision,” he adds.
For so many of us, family time spent close to home has made us appreciate the world differently.
The Cotswold Company's sustainable approach to furniture makes homes at one with nature
“Things like bike rides, spending more time in the garden, reconnecting with nature, walks with the dog, enjoying the natural world and living at a slower pace has been a small positive outcome of this terrible pandemic. We have all spent so much more time together as well, time to really talk and time to enjoy the sanctuary of our homes.
“So it’s been a time to reflect and think about what kind of world there is for our children. But it’s just not up to them because of course it’s up to our generation to do more now. And businesses need to be aware of that.”
The Cotswold Company ensures that all timber for its sustainable furniture is responsibly sourced. They trace the chain of custody from the trader and logger right back to the source forest, in countries with sustainable reforestation.
“Discovering that the majority of customers have eco issues on their list of priorities is something we want to reflect,” he continues.
“Of course there has been so much human tragedy during this pandemic, it’s been such a tough time for all, as well as many businesses. Retailers have been part of that.
“So through all of this, we have found that what people want is different. We’ve discovered that our customers want sustainability – it’s an important part of their decision process when it comes to shopping and what the kind of furniture they want in their homes.”
Sustainable furniture lasts for life
The company’s products are built to last, and are a beautiful addition to any home. Their products don’t fall onto the fast-fix conveyor belt of ‘just buying new things’ in the manic frenzy of High Street trends. Their products are clearly designed for life.
Mr Tucker explains: “We have built a product that lasts which is genuinely beautiful too – so we are not part of ‘fast consumer’ trends. If you buy a piece from us, it will last for generations and the design is timeless.
“These pieces will stay in your home for decades and are built from timber that’s been responsibly sourced. And we take our influence in colours that are inspired by nature.
“Our products are elegant and natural, reflecting nature’s soft greens, dapple greys. And now we’ve launched a range of garden products too. We have bird tables, hedgehog houses, bird feeders, garden lights. As well as all our furniture for the garden.”
An innovative twist came when the company turned Black Friday into Green Friday, where instead of offering discounts to customers, they offered pledges to plant trees for the Woodland Trust. This is just one of the many ways they are leading the way when it comes to responsible and sustainable business.
Ethically sourced, environmentally sound
Mr Tucker explains: “So instead of discounts, we offered this chance to do something for the environment. And it proved really popular. People are more aware now and want to be part of the momentum for change.
“Our wood comes from New Zealand and the US, including the Appallachian Mountains, from companies with responsible credentials. And we are manufacturing our upholstery and mattresses in the UK, which also has the benefit of reducing the carbon footprint of the pieces.”
“Our furniture is responsibly sourced and there are strong replanting programmes in place, as we replant a tree for everyone we use.”
A big message from consumers these days is that they want retailers to reduce packaging, something The Cotswold Company has taken action to change.
Cotswold Co CEO Ralph Tucker says we appreciate our living spaces and nature differently now
“Our customers didn’t like the amount of polystyrene we used for packaging and protecting our furniture,” Mr Tucker explains. “But of course we want our furniture to arrive in perfect condition so we had to think outside the box,” explains Mr Tucker.
And they did… with a cardboard box.
Thinking outside the box
He continues: “So by the end of the year we will have removed all polystyrene from our packaging. It took us 18 months to re-engineer specialist honeycomb cardboard packaging. Plus our mattresses are hand-made from wool sourced from the factory’s own farm on Dartmoor.
“We do really feel we are taking steps in the right direction. But we also think our designs reflect our commitment to sustainability and the natural world.
“And although we know we are moving in the right direction, we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
As the world celebrates Earth Day 2021 with a renewed appreciation of how the planet nurtures and nourishes us, we can all start making choices that will build a brighter, kinder future.
Choosing sustainable furniture from The Cotswold Company not only transforms your home into a haven of peace, beauty and comfort for years to come, but it means you’re helping make a difference to the planet, one tree at a time.