Image courtesy Outer

By Cara Gibbs

Whether you live in seasonal climates or warmer temperatures year-round, our yearnings for being outside are stronger than ever. Biophilia and connecting to nature are more than just a trend in green building. And as we continue to relish time spent outdoors, it’s important that we surround ourselves with furnishings that remain mindful and inherently true to the environments they inhabit. Whether through their intentional materiality or their generational heirloom quality, or both, the eco-conscious designs of the following brands offer endless opportunities to engage with sustainable outdoor furniture. Read on to discover how each brand leader puts sustainable practices to use outside.  


Turning heads with each sleek debut, Outer certainly doesn’t hold back on creating modern-minded outdoor pieces. And the same can be said of their eco-conscious craftsmanship. The California-based, direct-to-consumer brand set out on a mission to reinvent the approach to outdoor furniture through conscious design, eco-friendly materials, and relying on sustainable supply chains—all while on a quest to become a carbon-neutral business. More than 100 recycled plastic bottles make up each of their fully recyclable all-weather wicker furniture pieces, handcrafted by artisans. And their durable yet soft-to-the-touch custom performance fabric resists stains, fading, and mold.

Their Teak collection, made using FSC-certified wood sourced from responsibly managed fields in Indonesia, where multiple carbon-capturing trees are planted to replace the ones they harvest. And the Aluminum collection—weather-resistant and outdoor-ready—is 100% recyclable. Chief Design Officer Terry Lin, who co-founded Outer with Jiake Liu, weighs in on the brand’s design intentions and the power of responsible materials. Image courtesy Outer

Outer Aluminum Pacific Fog

Caretakers of the Earth

Q: What strides are you making to bring more sustainability outside?
A: We are getting desensitized to the changing natural world. Studies have shown that getting outside makes you healthier and happier, yet we are spending far less time outside for good reason. You don’t have to look far to see the effects that decades of industrialization have had on our planet. The world is getting hotter, colder, wetter, and drier.  

As the caretakers of the Earth, we have to take a unified effort to do our part before we cause irreparable damage. That means that we have to look high and low and perform acts great and small. At Outer, our impact is not in the volume of the materials used, but the thinking into the choices that were made. We are currently working with a clean tech partner on developing new material formulations that sequester carbon. The approach is harder, slower, and more expensive, but it’s the right one for us.

Q: What’s the lasting impact of your outdoor furnishings?
A: We believe the small acts that we make shine a spotlight and demonstrate to consumers that small companies can make an impact. The collective small acts that consumers, communities, and small businesses choose will eventually become big acts. That’s where lasting change can be made.


Arguably the leader in durable outdoor textiles, Sunbrella puts their innovation to the test once again with the release of ReTweed—the brand’s first sustainable line of performance fabrics. Brought to life by their partnership with Richard Frinier, the collection’s fibers contain up to 93% recycled content while bearing a hand-loomed textural appearance—a textile game-changer by all accounts. Available in neutral palettes and earthy hues, ReTweed recalls mid-century–modern style and fashionable vintage tweeds.

On a broader scale, the company is known for the color-fastness and strength of its yarns, ensuring long-lasting outdoor furnishings that results in less waste. Though if you do find yourself wanting to update your outdoor scene, you can dispose of your old Sunbrella outdoor furniture or outdoor replacement cushions through their Recycle My Sunbrella program, which has collected almost one million pounds of fabric to date. 

In its own manufacturing processes, Sunbrella is committed to sustainability in a variety of ways. They currently divert more than 90 percent of their waste from landfills and are working toward zero waste in 2022. Their solution-dyed fabrics—which are GREENGUARD Gold-certified with most fabrics meeting the Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX—waste less water than conventional coloring processes. And the Sunbrella factory, along with parent company Glen Raven, operate under solar power. Director of Upholstery Sarah Dooley expounds upon the extensive efforts of sustainability they’re bringing to the outdoors. Images courtesy Sunbrella

Sunbrella ReTweed fabric for sustainable outdoor furniture; fabric samples on gray background - photo
Sunbrella Retweed Glamour fabric details, green and blue fabric
Sunbrella Retweed Glamour, flat lay of neutral fabrics
Sunbrella Retweed Glamour, stack of colored outdoor performance fabrics

Sustainability and Safety are Not Buzzwords

Q: Tell us why sustainability is so important to the Sunbrella brand.
A: Sustainable home design certainly influences everything from color to texture and materials. At Sunbrella, sustainability and safety are not buzzwords—they are central values that define the approach we take to create fabrics that are wear-resistant, cleanable, and retain their look and feel over time. It’s also a core tenet of what homeowners today expect both outside and in their homes.

Q: Why is it important that our outdoor furnishings exercise sustainability just as much as indoor furniture and building materials?
A: Homeowners are no longer casually creating outdoor spaces–they’re building intentional expansions of their homes that are increasingly critical to their wellbeing. Research shows that spending more time in nature can help combat feelings of stress and anxiety. 

We’ve also seen data that suggests people used to spend up to 90 percent of all their time indoors. Anecdotally, we’re seeing people recast their routines and reprioritize time outdoors, regardless of the season or climate. While the concept isn’t new, many people are taking this to heart and finding new ways to embrace their surroundings and invest more thoughtfully in outdoor spaces that feel comfortable year-round, while still meeting and exceeding their expectations for sustainability.

Q: What are you seeing in the market?
A: As consumers look to feel a greater connection to nature, we’re seeing preferences for a warm, minimalist aesthetic using comforting, durable textiles and understated furniture that are inherently sustainable and multifunctional.

Contemporary Comfort with Loll Designs

Bright colors and unique shapes are the trademark of Loll, a designer and manufacturer of durable, all-weather outdoor furniture and accessories made with HDPE plastic. Loll partners with award-winning designers, artists, and architects for striking pieces that let simplicity shine through. Then post-consumer, recycled content (largely from milk jug containers and shampoo bottles) is upcyled into fun, innovative, and high-design products made to last.

The Loll collection begins with the Adirondack Chair that comes in black, grays, or several fruity and fun colors. Their tables, seating, and accessories use a common orthogonal vocabulary. New lounge pieces feature durable cushions for more comfortable snuggling, but retain a modern aesthetic. And swings make everything more fun.

Loll furniture will not rot and, because it is colored through-and-through, requires no paint, stain, or ongoing maintenance. Most often, a seasonal hose-off will make it ready for spring. Cushions are made with Sunbrella fabric for stain, mildew, and fade resistance. Go ahead and take those “inches of snowfall” pictures of your brightly colored deck and patio furniture. Images courtesy Loll Designs.

bright red Aidrondack chairs with matching footrests are set up atop flagstone patio; green lawn in foreground, white house with multiple windowed doors in background - background

Recycled and Recyclable Means Sustainable Outdoor Furniture

Q: How does Loll integrate sustainability into materials and production?

A: Sustainable manufacturing is at the core of who we are as a company. Our design and manufacturing facility is located in Duluth, MN, which lies along the shores of Lake Superior. We provide high-quality jobs for 90+ employees. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste and lessen our carbon footprint. Nearly all product materials and packaging are made in the USA and the raw materials originate in the USA. During production, we “nest” in our parts to generate as little waste in materials as possible. Of the waste that is left, 95 percent is sent to a local recycling plant. We also redirect the heat that is generated by our CNC machines to keep our production building warm during the winter months. Other efforts to reduce our environmental footprint include packaging our products in materials that can be recycled, flat and knocked-down products to reduce the amount of packaging required, and working towards a zero-waste facility.

Q: Why has Loll embraced Cradle to Cradle for certain products?

A: It’s about understanding our impact on the environment, our employees, and our community. And the Cradle to Cradle® certification process validates all we do to push sustainable processes and other aspects of our company. Achieving a Cradle to Cradle certification was a rigorous process, and no stone was left unturned as our company and our supply chains were thoroughly investigated. In addition to providing product traceability, this certification provides validity for the many social and environmental activities we do for our employees and the community. Throughout the process we were evaluated on five categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Upon completion, a whopping 85% of our products became Cradle to Cradle Certified, receiving an overall Cradle to Cradle Certified Bronze rating.

Q: How does the Loll design aesthetic support sustainability?

A: Durability and longevity equate to sustainability. Loll was founded by a municipal skatepark company where the value of being designed with commercial-grade toughness is top-of-mind. Products are intended to last for years and years. We consider Loll to be heirloom-quality furniture. Further, we specifically sought out HDPE material, which is 100% recyclable, as it is important that we are a part of the circular economy. We don’t want our furniture to end up in landfills. We’ve engineered our products to be flatpack or knocked-down, in most cases. This means all parts can be assembled as well as disassembled, and if a part is ever damaged it can be removed and replaced so the furniture lives on in its intended use. Aside from considerations for longevity, durability, and environmental impact, Loll furniture is still a beautiful product that we hope every Loll owner feels special owning and even passing on. Our customers enjoy Loll pieces in their yards, make memories with their families, and hopefully, live with appreciation for the outdoors.


Lime green dining table and dark gray chair and benches sit on patio that is open to kitchen in home with industrial-style lighting
white outdoor chair with blue cushions sits on pool deck; wood fence and spiky tree in background


Long revered for their classic silhouettes and reputation for exceptional quality, Richmond, Virginia-based McKinnon and Harris has been making innovative strides in the world of outdoor furniture for over 30 years. 

Through sustainable measures like employing responsible craftsmanship; using 100% recyclable aluminum; and recycling all internally produced aluminum scraps, batting and foam scraps, cardboard, bottles, paper, and plastic, McKinnon and Harris remains mindful of reducing the impact of their furnishings on the environment. 

What’s more, they use an EC2 substrate conversion coating to finish off their pieces. This eliminates the need for chromate, which has historically been considered industry-standard for metal pre-treatment but is now known to be carcinogenic to humans and toxic to the environment. The brand’s architectural-grade powder coating instead is a solvent-free process with no VOC emissions. 

But it’s their creations’ inherent tendency to be passed down to the next generation that perhaps most renders them a sustainable brand. Their enduring styles and handcrafted artistry continue to evolve through pure ingenuity, explained here by McKinnon and Harris co-founder Will Massie as he dishes on the brand’s unique creative process. Image courtesy McKinnon and Harris

McKinnon and Harris Abbot Dining Chair Landscape, aluminum outdoor furniture

Permanence, Beauty and the Eternal

Q: McKinnon and Harris furniture is handcrafted to last a lifetime. Talk to us about the heirloom nature of your outdoor pieces.
A: Our parents were passionate gardeners who passed on their love of nature, the enduring value of outdoor spaces, and well made things achieved through hard work. McKinnon and Harris grew out of this passion. Our company mantra—the Latin words Sublimis, Virtus, Sempiterna—speaks of our belief in permanence, beauty, and the eternal. We are so certain of our unsurpassed craftsmanship that we guarantee our handmade aluminum furniture for life.

As a company, McKinnon and Harris is committed to being an environmental leader, which includes striving to sell, buy, and use environmentally friendly products. That’s why we’re so proud that each McKinnon and Harris piece is innately sustainable—from process to purpose and performance. By engineering furniture to last for many generations, we avoid contributing to landfill. 

Q: And this philosophy doesn’t only extend to the finished product. Tell us about your manufacturing process.
A: We are fully committed to responsibly crafting enduring outdoor furniture in an eco-conscious work environment. This includes recycling aluminum shavings, pieces, and parts, as well as reticulated foam. We responsibly dispose of resources used with performance-enhancing technologies like EC², and continually strive to reduce our carbon footprint.

Complete your outdoor living settings with these sustainable outdoor accessories from Viva Terra.

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For eco-friendly furniture options indoors, check out “Sustainable Furniture Brands That Will Keep Your Home Healthy And Stylish.”