Old Wood, New Use – Eco-friendly Hardwood Furniture

After hosting several largish parties at our home last week and experiencing a chair shortage, my husband and I decided the time had come to bring some more chairs into our furniture family. Whenever we are in need of furniture we buy one brand and one brand only – Tropical Salvage. We discovered this Portland-based company when we bought our house three years ago. We needed to furnish our new home and found most stores could not tell us the source of the wood for their products. We could only assume this meant the wood came from an endangered forest in some developing country in South America or Asia, which unfortunately is the source of much wood used in furniture sold in the U.S., even when the wood is acquired illegally.

Tropical Salvage’s creations are made in Indonesia from hardwood salvaged from the bottom of rivers, volcanic debris or from demolished buildings. The wood is beautiful, full of minerals and rich colors.  Each piece is handmade by Indonesian craftsmen who receive fair wages (Tropical Salvage is a member of the Fair Trade Federation) so you know both people and the planet benefit from this gorgeous furniture. Their products are well-made, each piece is unique, and the prices are no more than you would pay for other lines of high-quality hardwood furniture.

Our home is a bit of a Tropical Salvage showroom. We have a custom-built TV cabinet, a sideboard, our queen-sized bed, a dresser, a rocking chair and now 4 kitchen chairs. We like knowing the furniture we use everyday left the forest intact and gave people an economic opportunity they may not have had otherwise. We get more compliments on our Tropical Salvage pieces than on any other furniture in our home.

There are several spots in Portland where you can buy Tropical Salvage including Eco-PDX on N Interstate, Ten Thousand Villages in the Pearl District, and at Tropical Salvage’s location on SE Division and 11th. The furniture is sold in various stores throughout the country so contact Tropical Salvage to find a location near you.



  1. Kathy Teckman said,

    April 9, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Beth! This furniture is beautiful! I will definitely check it out next time I need to purchase furniture. I read several of your blogs and really enjoyed them. As a result, I am forwarding your email on to many of my friends. Thanks for putting your time and energy into making a difference in the lives of those living in poverty as well as saving and sustaining our beautiful planet. Kathy Teckman

  2. Heather Chilton said,

    April 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Thank you for this great information in an easy-to-assimilate format, Beth! I’m excited about the possibility of getting Tropical Salvage furniture from the Ten Thousand Villages store in Glen Ellyn,IL. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to do the research so that I can benefit from it, too! Heather Chilton

  3. Dr. Dave said,

    July 10, 2008 at 8:17 am

    We have friends in Nicaragua who are growing precious tropical hardwoods, and we’d like to find a way for them to sell the wood in the US through a Fair Trade company who will import the wood and give the growers a fair price. Does anybody know of such an organization?

  4. Beth said,

    July 10, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Dave,

    I recommend you contact the Fair Trade Federation (http://www.fairtradefederation.org) to see if they can refer you to someone. You could also talk to Tim of Tropical Salvage (the company I posted about above). His work focuses on Indonesia but he might have ideas for you or know of other companies. Thanks and best of luck in helping your friends.


  5. Andrea said,

    March 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    … yes, the Fair Trade Federation is the right address. But caveat with the contacts you may get, when it comes to eco-friendly furniture. I did some research on baby-cribs and found that so many had a completely eco-unfriendly and also very unhealthy lead-based paint/finish. So careful with the imports you get in terms of furniture. Make sure they only use completely lead-free paint, especially for baby furniture. Andrea from baby furniture cribs

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