Gesture Furnishing Pioneers Eco-Friendly Furniture Alternatives to Combat Climate Change

BY DPU REPORTER: Gesture Furnishing, a Ugandan-based furniture company, has embarked on a significant project dubbed Paanga Paanga Furniture to combat climate change by substituting timber with environmentally friendly materials in furniture production.

Vincent Kayondo, the Managing Director of Gesture Furnishing, emphasized the urgent need for companies directly impacting the environment to spearhead climate action.

He pointed out that while civil societies and NGOs have long advocated for climate change initiatives, the active participation of industries contributing to deforestation, particularly furniture companies, is crucial.

Research indicates that deforestation causes about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to the climate crisis. Greenhouse gases are released when forests are destroyed by activities such as illegal and unsustainable logging and land conversion for agriculture, which Kayondo believes can be solved.

A 2023 study by the World Resources Institute predicted that global wood consumption could increase by 54% between 2010 and 2050. This surge in demand for timber could lead to deforestation on a scale equivalent to the area of the continental United States, adding 3.5 to 4.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually.

It is against this background that Gestures thought that by substituting timber with environmentally friendly materials in furniture production, the company will be hitting two birds with one stone; ensuring profitability while preserving the environment.

This year, Gesture Furnishing entered a short-term partnership with BKVV International, a Netherlands-based architectural firm, to implement the project in Uganda, where the climate crisis is intensifying daily. The initiative aims to shift Ugandan consumers from wood-based furniture to alternatives like bamboo, recycled wood, metal, organic materials, and plastic.

The initiative whose focus is on promoting sustainability and modularity in furniture design, to ensure that the products not only meet functional needs but also contribute positively to environmental conservation, will see a huge change in the minds of Ugandans to change from wood-made future to other materials that are environment friendly. These will include using bamboo, recycled wood, metal, organic material, and plastic.

“We believe with their expertise in designing, and our having carpenters on the ground, we shall have a good implementation in Uganda”, Kayondo told this reporter.

On Thursday, Gesture Furnishing held a one-day workshop attended by 20 members who will be directly involved in physical interactions with key players in the education and tourism sectors.

The first cohort of the workshop that will take series was conducted at the company’s headquarters in Kawuku-Bunga where nearly twenty young men and women attended and vowed to take part in the project.

Speaking after the workshop, Kayondo explained that the first cohort of youths will conduct surveys to gauge public perception of metal and plastic furniture compared to traditional wooden furniture. He adds that it is intended to capture a comprehensive picture of the market landscape, providing valuable insights into the factors that influence purchasing decisions for furniture products.

“The project is in two faces, the Research and design is the first phase, and therefore we needed a team that go to the field to understand the readiness of the market and how people perceive this new idea, and their ideas will influence the way we design our project,” Kayondo said adding that they will mostly target the education and tourism sector.

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