The 8 Best Eco-Friendly & Sustainable Dining Room Tables

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Written by Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

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Leigh Matthews, BA Hons, H.Dip. NT

Sustainability Expert

Leigh Matthews is a sustainability expert and long time vegan. Her work on solar policy has been published in Canada's National Observer.

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Most of us pay a lot of attention to what we eat, but what about where? Here are the best eco-friendly, sustainable dining tables to upgrade your mealtimes.

If you’re in the market for a new dining table, this is a great opportunity to help redirect salvaged wood from the waste stream, give aluminum or steel a new lease on life, and/or support sustainable forestry.

Dining tables are a big purchase, with a big carbon footprint in most cases. Buying local, sustainably sourced, and low-VOC can help protect your indoor air quality, forests, and the planet as a whole.

LeafScore Tip

For a budget option, check out a company’s Value-Grade items. These are functionally and structurally secure but not quite up to the main production line’s aesthetic standards. That some brands sell slightly irregular items is a testament to their eco-friendly ethos and waste-minimizing initiatives.

Here are our picks for some of the best eco-friendly dining room tables (including a sustainably sourced kids dining table!).

1

Medley Palder Dining Table

Highlights: Handcrafted in California, using sustainably sourced FSC certified wood, Medley’s dining tables are as eco-friendly as it gets, though not cheap.

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Medley is one of our favorite sustainable furniture companies and offers a small number of beautiful dining tables with matching chairs and storage. These tables are made with solid wood and are finished with natural beeswax polish. The price reflects the care and craftsmanship that goes into these tables, meaning this isn’t a budget option.

The Medley range includes tables large and small, but my choice would be one of their extendable tables. Why? Because whether your space is large or small now, we all move house sometime! In the long-run, it’s much more sustainable if our furniture is versatile enough to go with us.

The gorgeous Palder Extendable Table is available in maple and walnut. It comes with two additional leaves, allowing the table to easily seat four, six, or eight people.

The company offers a lifetime warranty and a 100-day free trial and returns.

Medley offsets its tree use

For every tree used to make its furniture, Medley plants three trees in partnership with the National Forest Foundation.

2

Alabama Sawyer Dining Tables

Highlights: Beautiful sustainable dining tables made in Alabama from fallen trees and salvaged lumber.

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Alabama Sawyer offers custom dining tables made in the US using salvaged wood and eco-friendly techniques. You can specify the wood species, finish, and dimensions to create the perfect piece for your space. And, if you live in Alabama and have a tree lying around, or one that needs cutting, this company could turn it into a new dining table!

Alabama Sawyer is based in Alabama and is a wife-and-husband owned company that turns local tree waste into:

  • Dining tables
  • Side tables
  • Entry benches
  • Shelving
  • Credenzas
  • Desks
  • Seating
  • Vases, mirror frames, charcuterie boards, and more!

Alabama Sawyer doesn’t feel the trees itself but does everything thereafter. That means the AS team will:

  • Mill the logs
  • Dry the wood (over several months, typically)
  • Kiln fire it
  • Turn each log into a unique piece based on the wood’s specific characteristics.

All pieces are shipped in blanket-wrap, which can be used over and again. The company’s turnaround for pieces is typically 8-12 weeks. Prices for their current dining tables range from $3000-$5500.

3

Emeco Lancaster Dining Table

Highlights: Modern, minimalist style dining table made with sustainably harvested wood and recycled aluminum by a company known for quality craftsmanship and a solid environmental ethos.

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Emeco has been in the furniture business since 1944, when the company made a super durable commissioned chair for the US Navy. The Navy Chair is:

  • Still available today
  • Made with recycled materials
  • Built to last at least 150 years
  • Non-corrosive
  • Fire-resistant
  • Torpedo-proof!

Given that track record, Emeco is a great option if you’re looking for a robust dining table in a minimalist style.

The company uses recycled metal, glass, concrete, wood, and PET to make its furniture, along with sustainably sourced cork, and locally reclaimed wood. As such, tables like the Lancaster have a much lower carbon footprint and help keep usable materials out of the waste stream.

The Lancaster comprises a sustainably harvested ash wood frame and recycled die-cast aluminum seat and back. It is handcrafted in Pennsylvania and is available in three sizes:

  • 48″ W x 48″ D x 30″ H
  • 30″ W x 60″ D x 30″ H
  • 36″ W x 72″ D x 30″ H.

You might also want to check out the Run Table from Emeco (View on Made Trade). This table is:

  • Cradle to Cradle certified Gold
  • Made with FSC certified, responsibly harvested wood
  • Supported by a recycled aluminum frame
  • Suitable for outdoor use
  • Free of VOCs
  • Handcrafted in Pennsylvania.

Emeco uses VOC-free clear coat anodizing finishes on aluminum furniture and low-VOC finishes on wood pieces. Local Amish craftsmen make the wood pieces. Metal pieces are made in the company’s LEED-certified family factory in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

Transparency at Emeco

Emeco is very transparent about its environmental product certifications and commitments and runs an energy efficient factory. The company takes care to design and make furniture with little waste. What waste does occur is reused or returned to recyclers.

Emeco ships products using 100% recyclable packaging materials and offers a chair-to-chair recycling program for plastic and aluminum furniture.

4

Masaya & Co. Miramar Outdoor Teak Dining Table

Highlights: Sustainably sourced teak dining table ideal for outdoor use. Made in Nicaragua using responsibly harvested wood and low-VOC finishes by a company that has run robust reforestation projects since 2008.

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The Miramar Outdoor Teak Dining Table from Masaya & Co. is an excellent sustainable option for outdoor dining (or use indoor!). Built with sustainably harvested hardwood, this table has a low-VOC natural oil finish and is handcrafted in Nicaragua. There are two size options, seating up to 6 or 8 people.

This table ships within the US only and for each table sold, the company plants 100 trees as part of its ongoing reforestation projects in Nicaragua. As teak and other hardwoods are often not sustainably sourced, this is one of my go-to companies for all outdoor furniture.

About Masaya & Co.

Masaya & Co. makes beautiful furniture using responsibly harvested wood. It was initially established (in 2008) as a reforestation project called Maderas Sostenibles in Managua, Nicaragua. From 2008 to 2012 the company established tree farms on deforested land. It also began to process and export wood products from a tropical forest destroyed by Hurricane Felix.

In 2014, the company now known as Masaya & Co. was founded and in 2015 it began selling sustainably sourced wood furniture in the US.

Nowadays, the company employs 150 artisans in the region and Maderas Sostenibles manages over 1100 acres of newly re-forested land that sequesters carbon dioxide, provides a long-term renewable source of timber, and has become a wildlife sanctuary. The company claims to have planted more than 900,000 trees, including teak, mahogany, Spanish cedar, rosewood, ipe, other valuable hardwoods and organic agricultural products.

5

Masaya & Co. Chontales Round Dining Table

Highlights: A beautiful round dining table made from responsibly sourced teak with low-VOC natural finish by a company that runs reforestation projects. Ideal for indoor or covered outdoor use.

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If you’re in the market for a sustainable indoor or outdoor dining table that is round rather than rectangular, check out this gorgeous table from Masaya & Co.

Made with responsibly sourced teak, walnut, and mahogany (see above!), this table comes in two sizes, seating up to 4 or 6 people.

The company sources its hardwoods from its own reforestation projects, and because it’s not just straight teak it is best suited for indoor use or outdoor covered use.

Solar dried!

All the hardwoods used in the table (and other Masaya & Co. products) are dried in solar kilns on-site in Managua, Nicaragua.

6

Crate & Barrel Terra Natural Oak Dining Table

Highlights: Arguably Crate & Barrel’s best option for a sustainable dining table, made with FSC certified responsibly sourced solid white oak and with a natural finish.

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Available in a natural or smoke finish, the Terra Natural Oak Dining Table is Crate & Barrel’s most sustainable dining table option. It is made in Romania with solid white oak with a natural finish applied by hand. The wood is FSC certified and the table is hand-sanded, hand-joined, and hand-finished.

This gorgeous table is available in two sizes:

  • 65″ W x 37″ D x 30″ H
  • 90″ W x 37″ D x 30″ H.

A matching dining bench is also available (view here).

The major downside to this table is that it is made in Romania. This means that, for US customers at least, it has a much higher carbon footprint than a table made stateside.

Crate & Barrel offers a handful of other dining tables, but these aren’t all made with FSC-certified wood. Seemingly all of the tables are painted or stained using a variety of finishes that may not be low- or zero-VOC.

7

Pottery Barn Sustainably Sourced Dining Tables

Highlights: Made using salvaged, reclaimed, or responsibly sourced wood, the PB Sustainably Sourced dining tables are better than most new tables. One table carried Greenguard Gold certification, but most have stains and finishes that don’t seem to be low-VOC.

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Pottery Barn has a rotating collection of largely eco-friendly dining tables in its Sustainably Sourced catalog. These include the Mateo Extendable Dining Table that carries Greenguard Gold certification as low-VOC. Other tables in the collection are made at a Fair Trade Certified™ factory using salvaged, reclaimed pine, acacia, mango, and other wood, and each table is one-of-a-kind.

Poor transparency and VOC finishes

Pottery Barn isn’t terribly transparent about the stains and finishes used on its products. I’ve reached out to the company to ask for more information on the stains used in this catalog and will update if/when I hear back. As far as I can tell, the Mateo is the only table in the collection with Greenguard Gold certification, even though it is made with poplar and MDF. Other tables feature more sustainably sourced wood but aren’t low-VOC.

If you’re chemically sensitive or just want to avoid VOCs, I’d shop elsewhere for a table. Otherwise, these tables are more sustainable than most new dining tables as they’re made with salvaged and reclaimed solid wood.

For every table purchased, Pottery Barn plants a tree, which is a nice gesture, but not impressive compared to Masaya & Co.’s 100 trees! The company aims to plant three million trees by 2023 to help restore global forests.

8

Sprout Kids Adjustable Montessori Weaning Table and Chair

Highlights: Sprout Kids makes gorgeous kid-sized furniture, including a dining table and chair that is perfect for baby-led weaning and growing with your child.

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The Sprout Kids Adjustable Montessori Weaning Table and Chair is made with eco-friendly sustainably sourced Baltic Birch plywood. It comes with 12 inch legs as standard, but for greater sustainability you can choose to include 15- and 20-inch table legs too, so the table can grow with your child. This way, the table and chair can adjust to accommodate babies and kids as young as 6 months up to 8 years old.

Baltic Birch plywood is:

  • Strong and durable
  • Lightweight and beautiful
  • CARB compliant – it meets or exceeds rigorous standards for off-gassing of VOCs.

Sprout Kids uses birch veneers from north-east Europe (the Baltics), which makes this table highly resistant to cracking and warping. The fine-grained wood has a satin-like sheen. The plywood is finished in the US using non-VOC ultraviolet cured finish (an epoxy acrylate topcoat), making it easy to keep clean.

Sustainable shipping and packaging

Sprout Kids ships items flat to reduce shipping associated carbon emissions and resources. Sprout Kids also uses minimal packaging, which is almost all recyclable and comprises up to 30% post-consumer recycled material.

Sprout Kids offers a 5-year warranty and free replacements, in most cases, for any damaged parts during this period. After that period, you can purchase replacements for most parts at a low cost. The furniture designs are intentionally modular, so each piece can be easily fixed or transformed to give it a longer life.

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