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Is rattan furniture sustainable?

With Earth Day taking place on Thursday 22nd April and this year’s theme being ‘Restore our Earth’ we decided to look at the eco-friendly benefits of buying rattan furniture over other materials such as wood or plastic.  

This year’s theme – Restore our Earth not only reminds us of the harm that climate change is having on our planet but also looks at the rejection that we must adapt to the impact of climate change as the only option to combat the issue. Instead, we need to focus on natural system processes and emerging green technologies to restore the world’s ecosystem and rid our oceans of plastic waste.  

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What makes rattan so sustainable?

Rattan, a tree climbing vine-like plant can only exist growing amongst established trees in the tropical terrains of Asia, Africa, and Australia and is harvested without interrupting the structure or balance of the rainforest. 

Typically used for furniture, the super vine not only benefits the rainforest but the atmosphere as well, converting CO2 into clean air. As a superior eco-friendly material, rattan has the ability to renew itself within five to seven years.  

The production of sustainable rattan not only ensures long-term supply of the material, but also acts as a safeguard for ecosystem processes, endangered animal habitats and the livelihood of rural communities that have become reliant on this plant. 

Compared to wood, rattan grows exceptionally quickly, at a rate of 2cm per day, this means the vine is fully grown and ready for harvest within two years – a process that can take up to 30 years when growing wood. Once harvested, the tip of the vine is re-planted so the plant can grow again and protect the forest from degradation.  

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How is rattan harvested?

Rattan is much easier to harvest than other types of wood and is done by hand using a few simple tools, leaving the surrounding rainforest intact. This is essential for the re-growth of rattan that needs other trees and plants to climb up and grow.  

The vine is cut into 13-foot lengths and left to dry in the sun without the use of industrial machinery. Once the drying process is complete the rattan is stored for seasoning and graded before being shipped to furniture manufacturers. The vine is remarkably flexible, an ideal property for making intricate designs for tables, chairs, and sofas.  

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Does rattan produce waste?

Unlike other materials that can produce a lot of waste during the manufacturing process, every part of the rattan vine is used to make durable, luxury furniture. The outer skin of the vine is peeled back and used for weaving items such as baskets, chair seats and tabletops while the solid core of the cane is cut into sections and steamed, making it easier to manipulate into shape. Containing nothing but recyclable fibres, rattan doesn’t emit harmful gases into the atmosphere, helping to reduce our carbon footprint. 

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Is rattan biodegradable?

Unlike synthetic furniture, natural rattan is 100% biodegradable meaning it will naturally decompose without causing harm to the environment. However, you should be mindful of any finishes that may have been applied to your furniture during the manufacturing process and make sure you dispose of any old or unwanted furniture at your local recycling centre.

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What is Desser and Co’s commitment to sourcing sustainable rattan?

At Desser and Co we take great care in sourcing all our natural, quality rattan in Indonesia, working closely with local factories and growers to protect its stunning landscape. Rattan farming provides a sustainable income to some of the poorest people living on the fringes of the forests, helping generate employment and build communities. 

So, you can buy Desser’s conservatory and wicker furniture knowing that it is produced in an ethical and sustainable way – we promote Fair Trade and follow a low carbon emission business plan. 

References: 

https://greatermekong.panda.org/our_solutions/projects/sustainablerattan/factsinformation/

https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-rattan-furniture-made-from-2736315

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What is the difference between rattan and wicker?

Do you know your rattan from your wicker? Rattan furniture is bang on trend right now for its versatility in a range of interior decorating styles. From super-modern city apartments to suburban semis, you will find stylish rattan furniture to complement any space.  

But let’s not get in a tangle! Before we look at the benefits of rattan furniture, we need to clear up the confusion between rattan and wicker. Rattan, a naturally grown, vine-like plant fibre is lightweight, durable and flexible. It’s native to the tropical regions of Asia, Australia, and Africa that can be bent into a variety of delicate shapes. Where wicker is a type of weave used for making products woven from a variety of pliable plant materials. 

A brief history of wicker

So, let’s start at the very beginning, wicker was first discovered buried with the pharaohs in ancient Egypt. Inspired by this technique, the Romans adopted the practice of basket weaving, which soon spread across the entire Roman Empire. 

The rise of trade with Asia saw the explosion of wicker goods in Northern Europe during the 19th century. Rattan furniture soon spread across the British Empire, from India to the West Indies, and then to England, where the Victorians were captivated with rattan’s civilised exoticism. 

Learn more about Desser’s history with rattan dating back over 100 years.

So, why is rattan so popular? Let’s look at some of the benefits of this versatile material that has lasted the test of time. 

 Why is rattan furniture so timeless?

Admittingly, rattan is a traditional material used to create woven pieces of furniture. However, it has evolved to create a contemporary aesthetic with the introduction of minimalistic colours and patterns on the upholstery, modern rattan looks very different to the furniture of the past and is undeniably a fashion-forward piece of decor. 

The blend of traditional techniques and contemporary styling means that rattan furniture is in the fortunate place of working with all types of decor. Whether you have a minimalist loft or a mid-century modern barn, rattan furniture will complement any interior concept, adding texture and an eclectic twist. 

Is rattan furniture great value for money?

As a premium material, rattan isn’t cheap, but compared to other materials it is an economical buy. Not only does the rattan market offer a competitive price, but the material is also long-lasting. Rattan’s durability means it won’t need to be replaced as often as other types of furniture, making it a worthwhile investment.  

How lightweight is rattan furniture?

As a lightweight material, rattan has a smaller carbon footprint when shipping the vine from its native Southeast Asia to other parts of the world. This also provides many benefits in your home – rattan furniture is easy to move from room to room. 

Is rattan furniture durable?

The ideology that rattan furniture is associated with occasional use in conservatories, isn’t the case. Modern rattan furniture is far more robust and is capable of withstanding heavy and regular use and is suitable as lounge furniture in spaces such as living rooms and bedrooms. 

Is Rattan Sustainable?

Rattan grows similarly to a weed, growing up tree trucks in the rainforest. The material used to manufacture furniture grows seven times faster than wood from a tree, with rattan vines growing up to 200 meters in length. Harvesting is done by hand with the tip of the vine being replanted to repeat the process. 

To produce our natural rattan furniture, we work with partners that promote Fair Trade ethics, meaning that rattan farmers are always paid a fair wage for their work. Our strict rattan sourcing policies ensure that farmers and factories in some of the world’s poorest countries are supported. 

If you’re looking to invest in a piece of rattan furniture visit our collection of modern designs inspired by traditional wicker making. Made from natural rattan, we have a huge array of items including chairs, sofas, baskets and planters to choose from.