Soma Enviormental Print
Being "green" is actually in our genes. From day one we had a dream of at least being an environmentally sustainable if not environmentally restorative company. To us taking care of the environment is just like taking care of our home. You wouldn't trash your home would you? No you would actually put an effort to maintain and even improve it and that is Soma's approach to being green. Since our founding we have searched for ways to be green. We supported or made contributions to environmental cleanup and other campaigns to protect the lungs of our home, the earth, with reforestation of US forests by supporting tree planting programs and by donating to programs that work to protect the Amazon basin from clear cutting.
Funny thing about those programs is that they protect some of what's out there, but don't prevent new pollution from being created. With that awareness, back in 1999 Soma adopted the principles outlined in "The Natural Step" or TNS to provide the framework for its mission to become a leading sustainable company. The Natural Step has achieved what many in the world have been searching for: a sound, scientifically-based approach to identifying potential and real environmental problems of business operations, evaluating them in the framework of economic feasibility and ecological soundness, and implementing cost-effective operations-specific alternatives.
Most everyone is aware that our natural environment/resources, which we depend on for air, food, raw materials, etc., are deteriortating and decreasing. Forests are being clear-cut, agricultural land paved over, top soil washed away, whole seactions of the ocean are dying; the list goes on. At the same time our population is estimated to increase to an incredible 10 billion in the next few decades, landfills are bursting at the seams, and molecular waste is accumulating in the atmosphere. These declining resources along with the increasing population and waste are creating a funnel of smaller and smaller room for operation whose walls we will hit and have been hitting creating more and more ecological and healthcare disasters. To stop these, we must stop accumulating wastes, both those that are being pulled up from the Earth¹s crust faster than they can be redeposited and those non-biodegradable, persistent ones that we have learned to manufacture (i.e. CFCs). In addition, we must stop deteriorating the natural environment around us which we all depend on. Only if we re-align ourselves with the natural system will we avoid hitting the walls of the funnel.
To do our part to reduce the use of toxic materials Soma was the first commercial chair manufacturer in the US to offer 100% organic cotton, organic cotton/wool and organic hemp fabrics, we also started finding materials to put into our chairs and substitute for old, toxic ones that fit into the framework of these principles. The following table lists some of them:
Part Material % by Weight
Backrest Shell 100% post-consumer waste 7%
Foam CFC-Free N/A
Wood Seat Shell Formaldehyde-free glue N/A
Fabrics Organic and Recycled N/A
We don't use plastic seat shells because we think petroleum is much better utilized as a source of fuel. We use laminated wood seat and back shells instead. These are usually manufactured using glue that contains formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen so we worked to find a way to get them made without the formadehyde. Far before, LEED certification became popular, we were able to identify a manufacturer who worked with the glue supplier to develop a glue that provided the same quality and was formaldehyde-free. Beyond LEED certification we also look for wood that comes from sustainably managed forests rather than clerar cuts.
We have had 10% by weight minimum 100% post-consumer recycled material content in every chair for years and have developed some chairs with up to 29% post-consumer and 80% recycled material content and look forward to higher percentages as our research continues, but recognize that none of that matters if the product ends up in the landfill!
Back in 1996 we also developed a take-back, product recycling, and refurbishing program with the ultimate goal that no Soma chair will ever end up in a landfill. If you ever see a SomaChair that needs repair please let us know so we can get it back in the factory to refurbish it. Remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle everything to help improve our environment and quality of life. And please contact us with any questions or suggestions as this is a team effort and we all need to help keep our home, the earth, in top shape for us, for our children and for generations to come.