Green lounging for the deck

Photo: iStockphoto.com/Nicola Stratford
We went searching for our favourite green outdoor furnishing. Is there anything more calming than sitting on a porch in July? Whether you're at a cottage by the lake or in the humid urban jungle, there is something soothing about rocking back and forth in the breeze, perhaps sipping organic mint lemonade. But we don't want just any old chair, do we? There is something antithetical about enjoying nature lounging on furniture callously mass-produced plastic furniture. While most summer outdoor furniture isn't close to being eco-friendly there are some gems out there. Here are our favourites. Reclaimed furniture Our top pick is found in British Columbia. Clayoquot Crafts uses salvaged timber from the Pacific Northwest rainforests to create chairs, rockers and loungers with a timeless elegance. Created by environmentally conscious Tofino B.C. artisans, this company never cuts down trees but still manages to use the kind of rich cedar one rarely sees anymore. Comfort and serenity radiate from their designs. The prices are also affordable. Their Adirondacks and Cape Cod chairs are $180, loungers $250 and rocking chairs $220. Full furniture sets starting at $920 for $1630 you can get a gorgeous outdoor arbor with a built-in glider-bench to gently rock away the starry nights. True to their green ethos, Clayoquot Crafts has an option saves money and reduces greenhouse gases emissions. Their Cap Cod style chairs are cut and prepared but left unassembled. So, instead of your furniture needing to be trucked across the country, they arrive in neat 94 x "25 x 22 cm box shipped anywhere in the world by Canada Post. Long lasting Most of the traditional summer cottage designs are now also available in something called "poly-wood." It's 100% recycled polypropylene or HDPE plastic, it's long lasting and needs no more care than a quick pass with a wet rag to get ready for the season. Polywood Adirondacks are now available almost everywhere. But The Home Depot probably has the best selection of polywood garden furniture around with every conceivable design of chairs, rockers, benches, and gliders. They even have tables in a rainbow of hues and the prices all competitive with conventional furniture. Bending willow to your will For the budget conscious or for real DIY aficionados, Bent Willow or Twig-furniture is an excellent choice that is both timeless and safe for the environment. Also known as Gypsy Willow (after the Roma) this versatile material was popular during the Great Depression. Willow is one of the few trees to keep its bark even after drying out making it ideal for outdoor furniture. You can build your own rockers, swings, chairs, loveseats; the only limit is your imagination. Freshly cut willow is very pliable when freshly cut so it's easy to bend and twist it into any shape you want. A few final nails and your new piece will be ready. Your source of willow can be as close as your nearby forest (or even better go to a willow farm). To make a simple chair you'll need at least 20 to 30 willow branches to start. Twig workshops seem to sprout up in the summertime and there are plenty of how to books. Willow is now being grown as a biomass fuel and young willows (perfect for bending) can grow up to 2.4 meters a year. So if you are really patient, you can buy willow cuttings online (usually sold by the dozen) plant them and start your designs. Happy summer lounging!