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SFC Consumer Research

Eighth research installment shows tipping point in consumer awareness about environmental issues, especially indoor air quality and global warming, plus greater willingness to take action and choose eco-friendly home furnishings

Edenton, NC – Ninety percent of home furnishings purchasers will choose eco-friendly home furnishings if they like the style of the products and the price is within their budget, according to findings from the Sustainable Furnishings Council’s latest Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study, the non-profit’s eighth undertaking. But respondents in the study lack awareness about eco-attributes when it comes to residential furnishings.

“Our latest study presents both challenges and opportunities for home furnishings manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and interior designers,” explains SFC Executive Director Susan Inglis. “And cause for great optimism … nearly all of respondents (97 percent) indicated they are concerned about environmental issues, with women expressing concern on more individual issues (such as toxic pollutants in the waste stream, deforestation, extinction of species, using up natural resources and hazardous indoor air quality) than men.”

“Furthermore, compared to past SFC consumer research studies, a greater amount of respondents are concerned about the environment and are taking environmentally responsible action because they acknowledge that climate disasters are touching them personally,” Inglis continues.

Additional key findings from the 2017 study, which was conducted by Research Solutions Inc. Sept. 18- 22, 2017, and underwritten by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Hohenstein Institute and Oeko-tex:

• Most respondents (85 percent) have purchased environmentally safe products, with a concentration on home-related products (particularly among women), such as cleaning supplies (59 percent) and paper products (53 percent). For those who have not purchased environmentally safe furnishings products, a lack of awareness (31 percent) and cost (25 percent) were the primary obstacles cited.

• Most respondents (70 percent) spent $1,000 or more on household furnishings in the past year, and a third expect to increase that amount over the next year.

• The top three most important attributes respondents look for when purchasing furniture are quality (99 percent), style (99 percent) and a fair price (98 percent).

• Respondents are willing to pay up to 5 to 10 percent more for furnishings they consider eco-friendly, including wood furniture that is certified as legal and responsibly harvested and for home furnishings certified to be environmentally safe.

• On average, respondents expect their furniture purchases to last at least 8 years.

• According to survey respondents, ENERGY STAR® (74 percent), reclaimed wood (67 percent), recycled content (63 percent) are the most familiar home furnishings eco-attributes. For those purchasing home textiles such as sheets, blankets and towels, 72 percent indicated that a “fair trade” label resonates.

• Eighty-one percent of respondents expressed concern about hazardous indoor air quality; one-third said they are directly affected, while half describe themselves as not directly affected but believe everyone should be concerned.

• Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) expressed concern about global warming. 4 in 10 feel they are directly affected with another 39% believing everyone should be concerned despite not being directly affected.

The survey sample consisted of U.S. homeowners, both men and women, between the ages of 30 and 60 with household incomes of $50,000 or more. All respondents had spent at least $500 in home furnishings between September 2016 and September 2017.  The full report is available free to SFC members, and to GREEN AP.  It is available for sale to others.