When comparing products, consider more than just price

When buying something new, it can be tempting to choose the cheapest option. But if we are to make better choices and move away from the consumerism that dominates today’s society, we need a shift of focus. Not away from price, but a change in how we look at it. More conscious choices will actually help improve both your finances and the environment.

When the price is right
Many of us think about cost as the price we pay for a product and tend to compare products based on this one parameter alone. However, a lower price can hide anything from poor working conditions to a poor-quality end-product. The price is a reflection of the processes that lead up to the point of purchase, including everything from how the raw materials were extracted, to how they were handled by workers and machinery, and finally how they were transported to you.

So, if you make your choice based solely on a lower price, the product could actually fail you in one or many ways. Yet when the price decision becomes an extended version of the above and includes the entire life cycle, more boxes can be ticked off. Products that don’t fail will serve you better in the long run. The cheaper product might have deteriorated several times over, requiring either expensive repairs or replacement, upping that initial cost of the product considerably. And, as resource intensity is the number one reason why we are depleting the Earth’s resources, opting for quality and taking care of that material in the long-term will be the best option from a sustainability standpoint as well.

These benches were the first city benches that Vestre ever made. They were delivered to the City of Haugesund in Norway back in the 1950s and are still in use to this day. Photo: Haakon Nordvik.

Vision Zero: meeting places for the future
Other manufacturers may be able to supply furniture at a lower initial cost than us but, in a lifecycle economy, we believe we are unbeatable. Why? Because Vestre has a Vision Zero. According to this vision, we will not produce a single product which cannot last for ever. This is also how we are fighting the throwaway society, one piece of furniture at a time. Through good design, critical material selection, advanced surface treatment and a little maintenance every now and again, ever-lasting furniture is in fact very much an achievable aim. We also supply spare parts without any time limits – if we do not have them, we will make them for you.

Mind the process

First off, Vestre uses Nordic pine as standard in all furniture, and we consciously avoid using tropical timber. Refusing to use critically endangered rainforest species was an easy choice on the back of our values, and instead finding the necessary and entirely equivalent materials through thorough due diligence of the home market. Nordic pine is slow-growing and becomes tougher than its more southerly counterparts, growing for about 80-120 years before being felled. Its attractive surfaces also create part of the warm democratic background that make up the essence of our caring meeting places.

Steel parts being hot-dip galvanised in a bath of liquid zinc at 450°C / 840°F. The bath is heated entirely using renewable energy.

The steel we use comes from Swedish company SSAB and is produced with 30% lower carbon emissions than average on a global basis. We also aim to increase the recycled content. For aluminium, we are already at 75 % post-consumer scrap, and this greatly reduces the emissions of the product. Through our hot-dip galvanisation and powder-coating processes, the surfaces we produce meet the world-class C5-M standard, which means they can basically be used on an oil rig out in the North Sea without any issues.

Because we believe in transparency and want you to have more parameters to consider than just price, we have created the world’s first product catalogue to include EPD values across the whole portfolio. These values represent an overview of the carbon footprint of all our furniture, from raw materials to finished product.

The carbon footprint of our AIR series.

With great promises comes great guarantees

The process of ensuring ever-lasting products continues even after the products have been manufactured and delivered. The measures we have taken to ensure quality enables us to offer a fifteen-year guarantee, powder-coating and wood. To top all this off, we also offer a lifetime guarantee against rust. In addition to offering spare parts throughout the life cycle of our products, we also welcome the return of any used furniture to our factory many years later for restoration and return to a new life. We will be there, year in, year out.

If you leave this article with a single insight, it should be this: Think about what you are buying from a life-cycle perspective, instead of just the purchase price. It might just be that the decision will come out a different one, and a better one at that – both for you and for the planet.

Want to learn more about EPDs?: That’s why we’ve created the world’s first product catalogue with EPD values