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5 Sustainable Office Chairs That Cushion You and the Planet

Discover the secrets of sustainable office chairs: learn what makes them eco-friendly, from quality materials to certifications, and find options that benefit both you and the planet.
5 Sustainable Office Chairs That Cushion You and the Planet

This Article is 100% Organic: Written and Researched by Real Humans.

Ready to find an office chair that doesn’t kill your back and leave you stiff as a board when you lay down at night? An uncomfortable workspace kills morale, so if you think your workflow is slacking, you’re not the problem. 

Your dull, bulky office chair is. 

But not just any chair will work when it comes to having sustainable home office furniture. You need an ergonomic, well-designed, eco-friendly office chair to spice up your space. Thankfully, we’ve got your back with our top five choices for the perfect office chair. 

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A Quick Look At The Best Sustainable Office Chairs

How We Choose These Eco-Friendly Office Chairs?

When we went searching for the perfect eco-friendly office chairs, we wanted to take the guesswork out of shopping sustainably. We did a lot of research on what makes an office chair sustainable and non-toxic. We wanted to know what materials were safe for household use and what makes an office chair ergonomic. 

The answers were pretty straightforward!

Quality Materials

An eco-friendly office chair is only as good as the materials it’s made out of. Bamboo, sustainably harvested wood, recycled materials, and metals are all good choices. 

We found a lot of chairs made of plastic. While plastic isn’t the end of sustainability, it’s essential to be conscious of VOCs and the role that toxic off-gassing plays in our indoor air quality. We’ll talk about that more later on in the article. 

Some chairs we decided to include in this line-up used recycled metals, an innovative approach to keeping metal production cyclic. Steel and aluminum were two common materials in sustainable and non-toxic office chair designs.

Durability and Longevity 

A big factor in a product’s sustainability is how durable it is. Quality materials play a huge role in how something holds up over time. But quality won’t matter if your office chair is poorly constructed, has too many moving parts, or doesn’t last longer than a year. 

Because of this, we looked for office chairs that were constructed using high-quality craftsmanship. A few brands we included, like Humanscale, had designs emphasizing fewer moving parts than their conventional alternatives. 

We also looked for brands with excellent warranties, return policies, and product recycling programs. In an ideal world, we’d be able to always repair or recycle the furniture we buy. That idea extends to home office chairs, which come at a premium and (if you work from home) are used pretty much every day. 

Ergonomics 

We’ve all been there: you move into a new apartment and need a quick fix for your desk, so you grab a cheap office chair from whatever supermarket is nearby. It might not seem offensive initially, but then your legs start going numb, and standing up straight gets a little harder. 

No need to live like that any longer. One of the coolest parts of living in the future is that furniture design has gotten crazy intuitive. Ergonomics are better than ever, resulting in office chairs you could probably sleep in. 

Well, maybe not sleep… but an ergonomic office chair is designed to support your body, encourage good posture, and (hopefully) prevent your legs from going numb on those long nights before a deadline. 

Third-Party Certifications

Third-party certifications are the bread and butter for sustainable brands. They provide outside validation of companies’ claims regarding their production practices, material sourcing, and product safety. 

While searching for eco-friendly office chairs, we saw several certifications repeated across our favorite brands. These included:

  • Certified B Corp: This verifies that a brand meets high standards for performance, accountability, and transparency regarding social and environmental impact. 
  • UL GREENGUARD: This third-party certification certified products for having low chemical emissions. This is particularly important for reducing exposure to VOCs and improving indoor air quality. 
  • ISO 14001: This certification is related to environmental management systems. The organization helps companies and brands improve their impact on the environment by efficiently using resources and reducing waste. 
  • Indoor Air Quality: This certification verifies a product has low VOC emissions. This test is recognized by the EPA, so its results have an added level of authenticity. This certification has a few variations, so you’ll also see it as SCS Indoor Advantage Gold. 
  • BIFMA: This certification is specifically for furniture sustainability. Products with the LEVEL mark have received third-party verification for comfort, safety, sustainability, and durability. 
  • FSC Certified: This certification varies that the wood used in a product came from a responsibly managed forest. 

While these are important milestones that make it easier for shoppers to decide if a brand is sustainable or just greenwashing, third-party certifications are not comprehensive. 

These certifications can create barriers for smaller companies that often can’t afford the cost of receiving a third-party certification. For example, becoming a Certified B Corp can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. Brands certified through this also have to pay an annual fee that starts at $500. 

That’s not always feasible for mom-and-pop shops, you know? 

Because of that, you’ll see us feature brands that may not have third-party certifications. These brands we still believe are doing good work for the environment, so we included them in our line-ups. 

Anyways! We’re ready to jump into our full list of sustainable desk chairs. 

Full List of Sustainable Desk Chairs

1
Youtoo Ergonomic Chair
Image by Ergonofis
Most Certifications

Ergonofis YouToo Chair

  • Sustainability: Certified B Corp, GREENGUARD, ISO 14001, Indoor Air Quality, BIFMA LEVEL 3
  • Price: Starts at $725+

This chair tops our list because of its flawless and non-toxic design. The entire chair is super customizable and comes in a huge range of frame, seat, and ergonomic options. There’s no sense in splurging on an office chair if it’s not perfect, so Ergonofis gave you as many choices as possible. 

The chair is made of an elastomeric back mesh, an upholstered seat (with your choice of fabric), and a nylon frame. These aren’t the most natural materials, but the YouToo chair has several certifications related to its safety. This is a low VOC office chair, so there is no need to worry about off-gassing. 

Beyond the materials, the chair’s structure is also customizable. For maximum comfort, you can add features like adjustable seats and backs. 

A little about Ergonofis: they’re a Montreal-based company dedicated to ergonomic office furniture. One of the founders, Sam, started out with an idea to develop a personal training program specifically for office workers. One thing led to another, and eventually, his idea morphed into furniture designed for comfort and health. 

Ergonofis is on the path to sustainability, too. They currently source about 91% of their wood from North America, which is a huge plus to us because of the stringent forest regulations in the United States and Canada. You can read more about their commitment to sustainability over here

2
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Image by Herman Miller
Most Recycled Materials

Herman Miller Aeron Chair

  • Sustainability: Cradle to Cradle V3 Silver, BIFMA LEVEL 3, GREENGUARD Gold
  • Price: Starts at $1,805+

The Aeron chair from Herman Miller is super cool. Made from ocean-bound recycled plastics, this eco-friendly office chair represents the future of sustainable office furniture. 

Herman Miller’s NextWave Plastics initiative is an interesting innovation when it comes to addressing plastic waste, and we’re here for it. You can read more about it on their website, but we’ll try to summarize it. NextWave Plastics was founded to develop a global network of ocean-bound plastic supply chains. 

NextWave Plastic partners scavenge plastics from devastated coastal waterways. These plastics are then cleaned, pulverized, and turned into brand-new materials for Herman Miller’s products. 

The fruits of that labor are clear in the Aeron chair’s design. 

Beyond being made of waste plastics, the Aeron chair is made of high-quality materials like aluminum and leather. The foam pads do use polyurethane, but fear not! This chair has the stamp of approval from GREENGUARD, so you don’t need to worry about VOCs. 

This chair is shockingly customizable, so you’ll get your money’s worth. There are seven different categories customers can change details in, ranging from the size of the chair to its tilt. 

Leave it to Herman Miller to make an excellent office chair. 

Besides all of this, Herman Miller is also involved in several sustainability-related initiatives. They’re focused on making their production and manufacturing sustainable in the age of climate change.

As an industry leader for the last century, their choices have helped pave the way for other companies to take similar steps. 

3
Humanscale Freedom Headrest
Image by Humanscale
Most Ergonomic

Humanscale Freedom Headrest

  • Sustainability: Net Positive Product, AFRDI Green Tick Certification, BIFMA Level 3, SCS Indoor Advantage Gold.
  • Price: Starts at $1634+

Humanscale’s Freedom Headrest made our list because of Humanscale’s commitment to sustainability. From full transparency to their dedicated use of recycled materials, Humanscale does it all. 

We liked the Freedom Headrest as one of their best products because of its incredible features, like an automatically adjustable backrest and carefully sculpted cushions. This is a phenomenal home office chair. 

One of our favorite features is that you can follow the chair’s lifecycle, a testament to how thorough this brand is in maintaining its environmental commitment. How cool is that? 

One of the hallmarks of Humanscale’s commitment to sustainability comes from its vision of it. Rather than focusing on just sustainable materials, they’ve honed in on reducing the total number of components that go into their products. Less is more, after all. 

But that doesn’t mean Humanscale skimps on quality. Their chairs are the picture of high-quality, ergonomic design. We think this one will make an excellent addition to any home office. 

4
Emeco Navy Officer Swivel Chair
Image by Emeco
Best Design
Best Warranty

Emeco Navy Officer Swivel Chair

  • Sustainability: BIFMA Certified 
  • Price: Starts at $1620+

This chair breaks from the focus on ergonomics and pivots towards design and functionality. This is perfect for the material purist who wants to focus on natural materials, like wool and aluminum, rather than the synthetics present in a lot of the others. 

This is also a great chair for the design geek. A reimagined take on a classic 1940s US Navy chair, this design is extraordinary. The Navy Officer Swivel Chair emphasizes clean lines and simple aesthetics, creating an unparalleled visual. If you can’t tell, we’re really, really big fans. 

The frame of this chair is made with hand-brushed recycled aluminum, a staple of Emeco’s approach to sustainability, and comes with a lifetime warranty. 

Yep, you read that right. A LIFETIME warranty. This is what we meant when we said warranties were part of our criteria for sustainability. 

You can also customize this chair to feature a wide range of colors and fabrics, like leather, for an ultra-good-looking office chair. 

5
Masaya &Amp; Co Jicaro Woven Back
Image by MasayaCo
Most Affordable
All Natural Materials

MasayaCo Jicaro Woven Back

  • Sustainability: Sustainably harvested wood, 100 trees planted for each product sold.
  • Price: $680

Are you a workspace nomad who sometimes works at their desk but usually floats around the house like a cat looking for the sun? Not laser-focused on ergonomics and comfort but still want sustainability and durability? MasayaCo. has the chair for you. 

In our article on sustainable office furniture, we talked about MasayaCo.’s incredible commitment to the environment, so it made sense for us to feature them again. We were blown away by their sustainability practices.

Their sister company, a reforestation project called Maderas Sostenibles, is dedicated to reforesting forests that were leveled for unsustainable cattle pastures in Nicaragua. MasayaCo supports these efforts and receives sustainable, ethically harvested hardwoods. Their furniture is handcrafted by regional artisans, supporting the local economies. 

The result is design-minded furniture with a sustainable twist. Their Jivaro chair is an homage to that idea and is a perfect addition to any home office. And let’s be real: is any office chair comfortable enough to get you through the meetings that drag on way too long? 

Probably not. But the Jicaro will be beautiful the whole time you’re on that Zoom call. It evens out. 

Comparing Sustainable Office Chairs

ProductSustainabilityPrice
Youtoo Ergonomic Chair
Ergonofis YouToo Chair
Certified B Corp, GREENGUARD, ISO 14001, Indoor Air Quality, BIFMA LEVEL 3Starts at $725+
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Cradle to Cradle V3 Silver, BIFMA LEVEL 3, GREENGUARD GoldStarts at $1,805+
Humanscale Freedom Headrest
Humanscale Freedom Headrest
Net Positive Product, AFRDI Green Tick Certification, BIFMA Level 3, SCS Indoor Advantage Gold.Starts at $1634+
Emeco Navy Officer Swivel Chair
Emeco Navy Officer Swivel Chair
BIFMA CertifiedStarts at $1620+
Masaya &Amp; Co Jicaro Woven Back
MasayaCo. Jicaro Woven Back
Sustainably harvested wood, 100 trees planted for each product sold.$680

Why Switch to Eco-Friendly Office Chairs?

Each time we make a purchase, we decide about the kinds of brands we want to support. We’re also choosing to prioritize either cheap, widely available, poor-quality goods or sustainable alternatives. 

Office chairs don’t seem like they’d be at the forefront of that decision, but every item we buy is part of a bigger picture.

By choosing to switch to an eco-friendly office chair made by any of the brands we’ve listed above (or others we didn’t include but who are dedicated to sustainability), you’re choosing to purchase a high-quality product that will last for decades. 

Or, in some cases, the rest of your life. That’s what sustainability is all about. 

There’s also the issue of our health and the impact our purchases have on our bodies. By purchasing something like a low-VOC office chair, you’re reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals that can vaporize and degrade the air quality of your home. 

This might seem like a vague concern, especially because it’s not one we can see, but research has shown that indoor air pollution is a serious issue. The kinds of chemicals that can be off-gassed into the home vary, but cheap plastics are a main source

What Materials & Practices Make an Office Chair Sustainable?

A lot of facts go into determining if an office chair is sustainable or not. How a product is made is only a small part of a much bigger story. In general, a sustainable office chair:

  • is made of renewable or recyclable resources
  • uses ethically-sourced materials
  • is manufactured ethically
  • does not have VOCs
  • can be recycled, repaired, or refurbished

This list may seem long, but most brands that do one of these things do the rest. Once you start looking for environmentally friendly office chairs, you’ll notice most good brands cover these bases. 

Fortunately, a lot of the brands we included in this article have come up with unique solutions to these issues. 

What Makes an Office Chair Non-Toxic?

A non-toxic office chair will have a few key traits that’ll help it stand out from the competition for its quality and safety. 

  1. Low VOC Materials: VOCs stand for “Volatile Organic Compounds.” These are chemicals that vaporize into the air, leading to indoor air pollution and respiratory issues. 
  2. Non-Toxic Upholstery: Ideally, your office chair should be free from harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, phthalates, and flame retardants. These compounds are often found in conventional upholstery materials. Instead, look for natural and organic materials. 
  3. Safe Metal Coatings: If your chair has any metal pieces, they should be free from toxic coatings and treatments. 
  4. Natural and Sustainable Components: Sustainable office chairs should use natural and renewable materials, like wood and bamboo, that are sustainably harvested. Any metals used should be from recycled sources. 

What is a Low VOC Office Chair?

Low VOC office chairs are made with finishes, glues, and materials that do not off-gas toxic compounds. Furniture that is low VOC tends to be compliant with California Prop 65, which requires brands to notify consumers if their products contain any compound the state of California identifies as a known carcinogen. This will be denoted on the product. 

There isn’t a standardized approach to finding products that are low VOC, but third-party certifications are a good start. GREENGUARD and Indoor Air Quality certifications are the industry standard right now. 

Final Thoughts on Sustainable Office Chairs

Finding a sustainable office chair will be a walk in the park if you follow our guidelines. We did all the heavy lifting to try to make it as easy as possible for our readers to find out what exactly makes furniture safe and non-toxic. 

Daunted by some of the prices here? Worry not—there’s always secondhand. Purchasing furniture secondhand is arguably the most sustainable way to purchase furniture. Nothing new is produced, so the Earth’s resources aren’t strained, and you can usually find some steals on cool stuff. 

Lastly, while upgrading to an eco-friendly office chair is a step in the right direction, complementing it with a sustainable desk can maximize the environmental benefits of your workspace and support the larger narrative of responsible consumerism.

Christina Boren

Christina Boren

Christina is an Alaskan-based sustainability and environmentalism writer. She’s spent nearly a decade working in industries directly related to environmentalism and sustainability, including chemical manufacturing and waste management. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Central Florida and is well-versed in what it means to be an eco-advocate.
Christina Boren

Christina Boren

Christina is an Alaskan-based sustainability and environmentalism writer. She’s spent nearly a decade working in industries directly related to environmentalism and sustainability, including chemical manufacturing and waste management. She holds a B.A in English from the University of Central Florida and is well-versed in what it means to be an eco-advocate.

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