Friday, August 22, 2008

Closet Companies Go Green

clothes closet

Closets isn't always the most exciting magazine - but the August edition sure caught my eye, with its focus on green closets.

First, a few statistics, from the magazine's survey of selected closet companies:

1. Of the companies surveyed, 42% say customers are inquiring about the greenness of the products.

2. However, only 17% said that customers asked about eco-friendly practices related to manufacturing and/or operations.

3. When asked about their use of green board products, 34% of the companies said they offer some sort of certified products.

So if someone wants a green closet company, where would they find one? Well, the magazine had a feature story on Eco-Nize, a northern Virginia company with both green products and green practices; that's one of the company's closets above. Noel Sweeney, the owner, emphasizes that because the company's costs are low - partly because it's an independent and pays no franchise fee - it can offer green products that are priced no higher than non-green products available elsewhere.

A number of other companies mention that they have green products available: Classy Closets, Closets for Life, and Valet Organizers [pdf] are just a few. Like Eco-Nize, they use composite wood panels (particleboard). An industry source says that "by their very nature, composite wood panels are among the greenest building materials available to consumers. They are produced from pre– and post–consumer recycled wood and wood residuals that would otherwise be wasted or end up in landfills, making exceptional use of our valuable wood resource. They take less energy to make than other building materials and produce fewer harmful by–products."

Others take a different approach. The Vermont Closet and Case Company advocates its all-wood products "from natural and renewable resources." The company says that it does not use "any of the harsh chemically produced fillers or laminates as found in other closet systems."

And then what about the larger issues of being an environmentally-friendly company: energy usage, recycling, and such? It's hard to find a closet company (other than Eco-Nize) that talks about such issues. But Portland Closet Company says it's "committed to being local and sustainable."

As with most green products and green companies, you'll want to do some research to see if what's being touted as green matches your values and expectations.

But it's nice to read this from one of the companies surveyed by Closets: "We owe it to the environment to manufacture in a responsible, renewable manner. It should not be a trend. It should be the way we do things."


Anonymous said...


The prices for Eco-friendly closets is massive. I suspect this will change in the next few years. About a year or two ago, California Closets' pricing was out of this world. Only the wood inside the laminate was eco-friendly, not the glue, etc. I suspect that will change as new sources are discovered. You take these pieces out of their boxes and they chemical smell can knock you out, so I think this is a step in the right direction.

Michele said...

Thanks for the pointer to Closets magazine - it was exciting to me at least!

Jess Wangsness said...

I'm a little late to this conversation about eco-friendly clostes, but some companies, such as Form+Function Custom Closets in Bradenton, FL, have managed to offer environmentally sustainable closet products without the steep costs. In fact, Volkhard Neumann, who owns and operates the company, now offers green melamine board exclusively; you simply can't buy a custom closet system from him that's made from particle board, etc. with the formaldehyde-based adhesives. For more information, check out the Web exclusive story I wrote about him for Closets Magazine:

Jeri Dansky said...

Jessica, thanks for the pointer to your article; I didn't realize that Closets had any web-exclusive stories.