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Cinde W. Ingram

Going greener and cleaner

June 1, 2007

When I start getting calls from major consumer media like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Reader's Digest, I know spring has finally arrived. Editors at those organizations are paying attention to our relatively small industry and trying to figure out what's behind all the excitement.

They are hearing, as we are, of the increased demand for upscale outdoor living spaces. They are asking what the deep seating talk is all about, what numbers are available to show sales growth over the past decade or how to keep outdoor products clean.

When I talked yesterday to a writer for The Oregonian, she said something that made sense to me. They have so many rainy days in the Portland area, desire builds within people to get their homes ready to take advantage of it whenever the sun does shine. Aha! Folks in the Northeast still digging out of early spring snowfalls are probably wondering when they ever will see a glimpse of green, not only outdoors but at the cash register.

The overall home furnishings industry has turned its attention to green manufacturing. You know as well as I manufacturers of teak furniture were forced to go green and follow sustainable forestry practices long before other parts of our industry, but now there is a renewed interest in other segments doing the right thing for future generations.

Inside this issue, you'll see at least two articles about eco-friendly efforts in the casual furniture industry and hospitality/contract niche. And there are many more angles to the movement. For example, fabric supplier Chris Stone has invested in new machines and processes to improve its clean manufacturing efforts and will soon launch an eco fabric collection. So suppliers ranging from wood to foam and fabric are climbing onboard with products that can help preservation efforts.

Three years ago, I saw the strong greening movement in the Europe marketplace. I was asked then whether it was happening in the United States and I had answered only in pockets of the nation, like the Northwest, West Coast and cities like Santa Fe. Now, it's much more widespread.

What I'm hearing is it's more than just a trend, it's a changing lifestyle. It's time to pay attention and lead your customers in the right direction so we'll always have a green spring to celebrate.