Claims that a product helps the environment are enticing to consumers. In fact, the 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study found that people may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly. Now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a 314-page update to its Green Guides, which are intended to help eliminate confusion among consumers about “green” marketing claims by requiring marketers and advertisers to use clearer, more detailed language.
The Guides also help marketers avoid making sweeping claims without proof or qualification. With the furniture and bedding industry using an increasing amount of “green” materials – from recycled wood to soy-based polyols – it is essential that you understand how the finished products in your store’s inventory may now be marketed and advertised.
What are Green Guides?
First issued in 1992, the new Green Guides clarify and modify guidance on environmental claims, some of which have become increasingly more common since the last revisions such as carbon offsets, non-toxic claims, and claims that products are made from recyclable or renewable materials. While not enforceable by law, the FTC can take action under the FTC Act if a marketer makes an environmental claim inconsistent with these Green Guides.
Helping you to avoid over-stating the truth
In issuing these Green Guides, the FTC wants to help marketers avoid making sweeping, over-the-top claims that can’t be substantiated. For example, simply stating that a product is “eco-friendly” may be leaving too much up to consumers’ interpretation. The Guides further state that, “Marketers should not state or imply environmental benefits if the benefits are negligible” and clarify what information may be needed to substantiate a claim.
Say, for instance, that a manufacturer increases the recycled content of his product from two to three percent. He then states on his label: “contains 50% more recycled content than before”. While the claim is technically true, it likely gives the false impression that the manufacturer has significantly increased the use of recycled materials.
Some of the Green Guides that may apply to the furniture and bedding industries
• Recycled content: Do you carry reclaimed or recycled wood furniture? For products that contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components, the Green Guides state that, “Marketers should make recycled content claims only for materials that have been recovered or diverted from the waste stream during the manufacturing process or after consumer use.” If a product is only partially constructed of recycled content, “Marketers should qualify claims for products made partly from recycled material. For example, “Made from 30% recycled material”. The Green Guides further advise that, “Marketers whose products contain used, reconditioned or re-manufactured components should qualify their recycled content clearly and prominently to avoid deception about its components.”
• Recyclable content: Mattresses are recyclable, right? The recycling language used may depend on your location. A product should not be marketed as “recyclable” unless “it can be collected, separated or otherwise recovered from the waste stream through an established recycling program for reuse, or use in manufacturing or assembling another item.” When recycling facilities are available to at least 60 percent of consumers or communities where the item is sold, marketers can make unqualified recyclable claims. Otherwise, a marketer can state, “This product may not be recyclable in your area.” If recycling facilities for a product are available to only a few consumers, the FDA says a marketer should use stronger qualifying language: “This product is recyclable only in the few communities that have appropriate recycling programs.”
• Made with renewable materials: In its review process, the FTC discovered that consumers often misinterpreted this claim to mean that the product was recyclable, made with recycled content or biodegradable. To minimize the confusion, the Green Guides recommend that marketers “identify the material used clearly and prominently, and explain why it is renewable. For example, “Our flooring is made from 100% bamboo, which grows at the same rate, or faster, than we use it.” By identifying the material used and explaining why it is renewable, the marketer has minimized the risk of unintended claims. New BiOH technology allows our customers to create products with typical levels of renewable content at greater than 50 percent.
• Carbon offsets: It wasn’t all that long ago that the concept of a carbon footprint was foreign to most people. Now most everyone has a general idea of what it means. In its Green Guides, the FDA cautions that marketers should, “have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support carbon offset claims. They should use appropriate accounting methods to ensure they measure emission reductions properly and don’t sell them more than once.”
Preliminary life cycle analysis indicated that manufacturing BiOH polyols requires 60 percent less non-renewable energy and results in less global warming emissions than manufacturing the petroleum polyols we replace. Additionally, for every one million pounds of BiOH polyols used, more than 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved. Considering that the industry uses billions of pounds of petroleum polyols, BiOH polyols can have an impact on using less petroleum.
Savvy sales people understand that the more they help their customers resolve a need, the higher their sales will climb. While you may not get a lot of people walking into your store and specifically asking for products made with soy-based BiOH® polyols, you probably do get a large percentage seeking better quality sleep and/or more environmentally responsible home furnishings. Once you’ve educated them about the benefits of BiOH® polyols, it will be easier to close the sale.
Here are some tips for talking with your customers about BiOH
• Become a cool-sleep expert. Exhausted people stumbling into your showroom may blame everything but the temperature of their mattress while sleeping. Explain that:
o Many people overlook some of the most obvious components to a good night’s sleep simply because they don’t know about them.
o Temperature regulation is important to sleep quality.
o Mattresses, mattress foam toppers and pillows made with BiOH® visco polyol provide a cooler, more comfortable sleep. Studies show memory foams produced with this new product dissipate heat more quickly, cooling off 15-40 percent faster than memory foams using infused gel technology. Foams made with BiOH® polyols are also less sensitive to temperature overall, so they stay softer at cooler temperatures.
• Give them tools for living a more responsible lifestyle.Surveys have found that 70 percent of shoppers would be interested in buying eco-friendly furnishings. The stumbling block? An estimated 55 percent say they are unaware that these products exist! People want to do their part for the planet, providing it’s not too difficult or expensive. So make it easier for them!
Selling mattresses and home furnishings made with soy-based BiOH® polyols can be as simple as educating your customers. Once they learn that products made with BiOH® offer them the possibility of consistently better rest, and are an eco-friendly, sustainable way for them to contribute to the health of our planet, they will feel good about making this choice.
Today, some marketers suggest that we classify consumers from light green (minimal commitment to sustainability and earth-friendly buying) to dark green (strong commitment). Whatever the shade, being green is more mainstream than ever. How is this trend affecting home furnishings?
Some of the most exciting findings come from the Sustainable Furnishings Council, which has released the top findings from its 2012 Green Home Furnishings Consumer Study. The fourth study of its kind, researchers surveyed 432 female homeowners ranging from ages 30-60 with household incomes more than $50,000 shows.
The survey, conducted by the Sustainable Furnishings Council with the support of furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, aims to provide trend data on consumer awareness, attitudes and behaviors relating to environmental issues and the home furnishings industry. Among its discoveries:
There is a growing interest in buying green. More than half of the consumers surveyed have purchased green products in a variety of categories. These consumers practice recycling at home and are concerned about a range of environmental issues.
Those who purchased home furnishings in the last year showed twice the interest in green products as those who have not purchased. People may be buying less but they are buying eco-friendly.
In general, consumers will pay a little more for a special feature that is important to them. 67 percent of respondents said that they would pay up to five percent more for green furnishings.
That last bullet point is perhaps one of the most important findings. Consumers will pay extra to buy a green product, especially if it does more than its traditional counterpart. Just as we’ll buy energy efficient brands because they’ll also save us money, when you’re talking with consumers about mattresses and other products with BiOH® polyols, spend ample time discussing the benefits to the consumer – such as better sleep – in addition to the benefits to the environment.
That two-for-one value could easily be the tipping point that results in more sales. Your customers will be excited about sleeping better at night. They’ll also feel good about themselves because they just bought something that helps sustain Mother Earth.
It stands to reason that they will also feel good about you, as a retailer, because you sell these earth-friendly, health-enhancing products and you were knowledgeable about their many layers of benefits.
We’re looking forward to seeing all of the new things at this month’s High Point Market. This is more than just the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world – it’s always a lot of fun and it is definitely a way to build your business. We are excited to catch up with some of our manufacturers – and we would love to meet new ones!
Let’s get together!
We enjoy helping manufacturers promote BiOH® polyols. We can always come up with something fun and unique to get retailers selling more products made with BiOH®. This photo was taken in the Klaussner Showroom during the last High Point Market. Retailers took photos and played a little Do you KnOH? game about BiOH® during the Klaussner party!
How can we help you? During the 2011 Fall High Point Market, we increased awareness & educated manufacturers & retailers how to sell the benefits of BiOH® polyols through our online retail training course. Since then, Klaussner has had more than 500 of their retailers take the course & will continue to promote BiOH® in its showroom, and make the training available onsite at this month’s Market. You can also view this training here.
Look for the BiOH logo on your map
The Sustainable Furnishings Council, a non-profit balanced coalition of industry players founded to promote sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers will once again hand out High Point Market maps to all attendees. Look for the BiOH® logo next to these names of Council members who also use BiOH® polyols in their foam cushioning:
We are so excited about attending this year’s Las Vegas Market, January 30-February 3 at the huge World Market Center. Each year, there are always plenty of new and exciting things to see and do, so even if you have attended in the past, you’ll want to spend time planning out this year’s adventure.
On opening day, make the First Look Exhibit in the Building B lobby one of your first stops. You will be able to pick up a copy of the First Look Book (limited quantities available) and see a showcase of the new product trends to be discovered at the show.
Speaking of trendy, we’re looking forward to the Food Truck Festival, to be held opening day at 6 p.m. in the Grand Plaza. The courtyard will be transformed into a four-wheeled, gourmet food fiesta. There will also be a DJ spinning favorites from the 50s and 60s. Should be a fun evening!
If you prefer something a little more low key, check out high tea, taking place Monday through Thursday in C512 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. You’ll enjoy complimentary tea sandwiches, cocktails and a selection of gourmet teas.
First Time Buyers Orientation
If you haven’t attended this event, this special orientation can be extremely helpful. It takes place from on January 30th from 10-11 a.m. in room C368, and is designed to help you maximize your buying time. You’ll get a rundown on all of the resources, destinations, seminars and events happening at the Las Vegas Market.
Seminars and Continuing Education Credits
There are a number of valuable seminars planned. One that sounds intriguing to us is LuxeEco and One Good World: Designing the Future, happening on January 30th from 11 a.m. to noon. This is a panel discussion among the Sustainable Furnishings Council’s distinguished DESIGNINGGreen Leaders, and should be quite informative. It’s also worth 0.1 CEU.
Verified Eco-Friendly Exhibitors
Perusing the list, we found many eco-friendly exhibitors including Artists Guild of America, Jordan Spence Design, Matt Downer Designs and a company called Groovystuff, based in Dallas, that features seven distinct one-of-a-kind collections. You’ll find everything from artwork to bedding and decorative accessories made with materials that are kind to Mother Nature. Of course, be sure to watch for products made with BiOH. Our partners who will be exhibiting at the show include: Broyhill (A1053), Harden (A901), Hickory Springs (B-0918), Klaussner (A847, A801), Comfort Solutions (A538, A542, A546) and Natura (A946).
We love the Buyer Lounges, located in each building. They are a great place to rendezvous, relax and grab a snack. Each building also has a Business Center where you can connect with your home office via Internet, phone or fax. This is also where you can make copies or send mail. The Internet Lounges in Buildings A and B have WiFi and communications devices available.
Transportation and Concierge Services
The complimentary M Line shuttles run all day between the World Market Center and select host hotels. Once you arrive at the event, convenient skybridges connect all of the buildings. If you want to take in more of the sights and sounds of Las Vegas, there is a Vegas.com computer kiosk concierge in Building A where you can find dining options and even buy show tickets.
One last word of advice: wear comfortable shoes! The World Market Center is a five million square foot campus!
Companies are making it easier than ever for Americans to embrace the concept of sustainability and energy conservation. The selection of products and services has never been greater – and it just keeps expanding!
One of the newest initiatives is Zero Energy America, a project focused on using eco-friendly materials and new building techniques to design Zero Energy Homes. A Zero Energy Home is one in which the net average energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emission, are both zero over the course of a year.
In the U.S. and Europe, our homes account for about 40 percent of the total national energy consumption. But even if an entirely new, energy efficient home is not in your future this year, there’s another way you can become part of the solution. The next time you’re in the market for future, shop for pieces that contribute to a zero-energy lifestyle.
Here is a checklist to help you determine if that furniture you’ve been considering is also good for the environment:
1. Is it made of wood? Ask if the wood is sustainably harvested for domestic, replenished forests. Or, look for reclaimed wood, bamboo or other environmentally safe materials. Products made with Smart Wood certifies that you are supporting a global effort for responsible forest management.
2. Is it made with leather? Ask if the tanning chemicals used are either biodegradable or recycled?
3. Is the furniture upholstered or does it have foam cushions? Look for the green and white hang tag indicating that the foam is made with BiOH® polyols. Traditional foam and carpet cushion ingredients are made from petroleum-based chemicals. BiOH polyols are made from a renewable resource – soybean oil. Manufacturing BiOH polyols requires 60% less non-renewable energy and results in less global warming emissions than manufacturing the petroleum polyols we replace. Additionally, for every one million lbs of BiOH polyols used, over 2200 barrels of crude oil are saved.
4. Where is it made? Furniture made in America cuts energy consumption and emissions associated with transportation.
Smart interior design can also have low environmental impact. From window shades and blinds to floor coverings, there are many products today made with recycled or sustainable materials.
Here are some of our favorite tips to pass along to customers.
• Certified fair-trade goods: Many are produced by independent worker cooperatives. The emphasis is respect for the environment, gender equity and fair working conditions. You might be surprised to see what can be made from recycled phone books!
• Think durability. Products that last a long time means that fewer will wind up in landfills.
• Choose natural fibers for rugs, linens and other textiles. Today there are a wide range of items to complement just about any décor.
• Hunt for recycled merchandise. Take advantage of someone else’s redecorating plans. Perfectly good lamps, vases and other decorative items can frequently be found in Craig’s List, at garage sales, flea markets and in resale and antique stores.
• Adorn your table with beeswax candles. These aren’t just natural, they actually burn cleaner.
• Refresh walls with low-VOC paints. It’s an easy way to avoid breathing toxic fumes.
• Buy local whenever possible. It cuts down on transportation, which means less use of fuel.
• Look for the green and white “Made with BiOH®” hang tag on furniture. This tag says, “ BiOH polyols are soy-based ingredients that replace a portion of the petroleum materials in foam. They have a smaller environmental impact through lower energy use and a smaller carbon footprint while supporting farmers.”
• Use vintage tableware. This is much easier on the environment than paper plates and plastic utensils.
• Decorate with live potted plants. Research shows that healthy, well-maintained plants improve air quality, brighten people’s moods, and may even help to keep your home at an optimal humidity level.
Need an exciting gift idea for someone in your family this holiday season? Think new! Think stylish! Think green! Environmentally friendly furniture and mattresses made with soy-based BiOH® polyols are cutting edge. Just say “no” to boring or predictable gifts! Sustainable furnishings are ideal gift alternatives that say you know how to make smart, informed choices.
There is something comfy and durable for just about everyone on your list, and in just about every price range. They’ll feel happy and indulged for years to come, and you will feel terrific because you’ve also done something good for the planet.
For the sports fanatic. How about a cozy Klaussner recliner? This large lounger with pillow arms reclines three ways for maximum comfort. We like the dark leather that can hide those unavoidable spills when your home team makes a touchdown. Not sure if it’s made with BiOH®? Ask a sales rep or look for the hang tag!
For the bookworm. Here’s a novel idea. Curl up with a good book on this BiOH-infused mattress from HOM sleep express. BiOH® polyol-infused mattresses let you sleep cooler than traditional foam mattresses, and they stay softer at cooler temperatures.
For the snugglers. Memory foam toppers, available at Bed, Bath & Beyond, are made with BiOH® polyols and are resistant to rips and tears. They’ll transform any mattress into one that will provide a cooler, more comfortable sleep.
Still can’t decide? Want even more ideas? Shop from Furnitureland South beginning on Black Friday and throughout December. It has every imaginable type and style of furniture, available for purchase both in the store and online. Just look for the BiOH® tag in The Eco-Link for manufacturers that use BiOH® polyols.
The BiOH® Polyols team extends our congratulations to Sauder Woodworking, which was named the 2011 winner of the home furnishing industry’s prestigious Sage Award for environmental excellence. The award was given last month during the Open Day Press Breakfast at the High Point Market. Other finalists included Crypton Super Fabrics and Leggett &Platt Home Furniture Components. This was the fourth consecutive year that BiOH® polyols has partnered with the AHFA to present the Sage Award winner with a $2,500 donation to any non-profit organization of its choice.
The Sage Award is an opportunity to recognize excellence in the home furnishings and bedding industries through honoring and acknowledging companies who lead in area of:
Reducing their environmental footprint
Expanding their positive social impact
Running a profitable business
The purpose of the Sage Award is to seek out, discover and recognize true industry innovators from whom others can learn. This award is founded on the belief that environmental excellence is an ongoing journey requiring flexibility, insight and constant learning. The annual Award honors businesses that demonstrate a passion for and a sustained commitment to that journey.
North America’s leading producer of ready-to-assemble furniture, Sauder Woodworking, embodies these environmental requirements and many more. Long before “sustainability” was a global concern, Sauder Woodworking’s reuse of scrap material and efficient, RTA shipping was setting a standard for sustainable business practices for the future.
Today the company uses:
Over 95 percent of the wood fiber used to produce the wood components of Sauder furniture comes from post-industrial or post-consumer recycled wood.
All engineered wood components meet or exceed California’s formaldehyde emissions limits.
The composite wood panels used in Sauder furniture use up to 95 percent of the wood resource, compared to an average of 60 to 65 percent that is used when constructing solid wood furniture.
Back panels are constructed using 100 percent post-consumer recycled material.
All coatings and adhesives are either water based or are 100 percent solids. None are solvent based.
Since 2010 alone, the company has invested over $2 million in processes to recover and reuse wood waste; $1.5 million to convert lighting in over 4 million square feet of manufacturing space; and $1.7 million in a system to optimize air flow and reduce energy use.
Finalist, Leggett & Platt Home Furniture Components,has been producing furniture components for over 125 years and sells its engineered components to over 1,500 furniture makers worldwide. All 13 of the company’s Home Furniture Components facilities in six states areimplementing A-H-F-A’s EFEC – “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture” environmental management system. Since beginning the efforts in 2008, the 13 facilities have realized enormous reductions in energy and water use. They also have reduced the use of raw materials and packaging and minimized waste production. Packaging innovations alone reduced tons of corrugated waste and saved tens of thousands of dollars.
Finalist Crypton Super Fabric is a specially engineered fabric system with an integrated moisture barrier. Unlike applied fabric protection coatings, Crypton’s environmentally friendly, patented process is engineered into the fabric, encapsulating every fiber. The company’s manufacturing facility in Kings Mountain, N.C., leverages best practices and manufacturing technologies to consume less water and energy, emit less pollution and reduce the use of packaging materials. The company also supports the development of the Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric.
The competition for this year’s award was challenging. The incredibly talented judges representing furniture and bedding industry leaders, environmental journalists, sustainability experts & the furniture industry business press were:
Sharon Bradley, Executive Director of the Wester Home Furnishings Association
Heather Gadonniex, Environmental Product Declaration program manager of the Underwriters Laboratories
Leslie Guevarra, associate editor for Greener World Media, the online publishing group founded by Joel Makower
Jessica Kellner,Editor in Chief of Natural Home Magazine
Jean Nayer, former editor-in-chief of Woman’s Day Special Interest Magazines and author of “Green Living by Design”
Powell Slaughter, Editor at Home Furnishings Business
Ryan Trainer, President of the International Sleep Products Association
Steve Walker, Assistant Directorof the Furniture Manufacturing and Management Center at North Carolina State University
Criteria for judging is based on three key points; Sustainable Business Practices, Commitment to Social Responsibility and Profitable Growth. We commend all entrants for their dedication to these efforts.
Andy Counts, CEO of AHFA with finalist from Crypton Fabrics and Kelsey Ness, Cargill's BiOH Marketing Specialist
Andy Counts, CEO of AHFA, with 2011 Sage Award Winner Kevin Sauder from Sauder Woodworking and Kelsey Ness, Cargill's BiOH Marketing Specialist
Andy Counts, CEO of AHFA with the Leggett & Platt finalists and Kelsey Ness, Cargill's BiOH Marketing Specialist
BiOH® is excited to announce the launch of our co-branding program with Klaussner Home Furnishing (KHF) at High Point Market Oct 22-27th in High Point, NC!If you are at Market this week, stop into Klaussner’s Showroom & check out the BiOH kiosk to learn more about the Free Online Retail Training and gain more insight into what BiOH can do for you!
Klaussner Home Furnishings made with BiOH Video:
There is a growing trend of furniture manufacturers such as KHF finding ways to distinguish themselves on the eco-friendly scale. “It’s long been evident to us that when retail shoppers are offered the option of a product that is more environmentally friendly, those shoppers will select the more eco-friendly product,” confirmed KHF’s Marketing and Brand Manager Brian Myers. KHF has long been an avid supporter of environmental initiatives, and its continuous actions are evident.
Its sustainability accomplishments include:
Purchasing wood materials from suppliers who are part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which has strict standards for replacing harvested trees while protecting wildlife, plants and soil and water quality.
Using recycled steel in its eco-friendly seating system.
Choosing fiber-fill for cushions and pillows that is derived from recycled materials.
Recycling 100 percent of excess packaging, fabric, leather, foam materials—which keeps those materials out of landfills and enables the re-use of products such as foams, which can become carpet padding.
Taking one step further, KHF has decided to fully co-brand with BiOH on its entire domestic upholstery product line featuring cushions that are made with BiOH polyols derived from soy beans. KHF has previously used BiOH Polyols in the foam process, and saw this co-branding as an opportunity to further its commitment to adding more sustainable components to its products. With BiOH, KHF has the capability to differentiate itself in the furniture market through focusing on the emerging eco-friendly consumer niche.
Klaussner is definitely on the right track in boosting its environmental outlook with its BiOH collaboration. According to results of the 2008 Green Marketing Consumer Study sponsored by the Sustainable Furnishing Council surveying 300 female homeowners between ages 30-60, while four percent purchased eco-friendly furnishings, the rest either didn’t know there was an eco-friendly option or said it wasn’t available.
Now, nearly three years later, the furniture market has drastically changed and manufacturers are listening. Consumers are willing to purchase a product that is of long-term benefit at a reasonable cost. They are waiting for manufacturers to deliver a quality product. Klaussner Home Furnishings has listened and has taken actions that will set a leading example for years to come.
Make sure to look for the BiOH® Brand hang tag on your next furniture purchase.
The BiOH experience offers resources for you to learn and participate in helping communities and the environment. It is brought to you by the BiOH polyols business — a maker of soy-based ingredients for foam. Please explore our site and then share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you!
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