Each year, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) selects one furniture maker from its list of potential candidates to receive the prestigious Evergreen Award for exemplary environmental practices. This year, it bestowed the honor on Watson Furniture Group, a small manufacturing company located on the Kitsap peninsula in western Washington State.
The GSA National Furniture Center developed the Evergreen Award program in 1998 to recognize efforts in recycling, affirmative procurement, and waste reduction that can set an example for other business partners to follow.
“We’re thrilled to receive this award recognizing our practical approach to environmental stewardship,” said Clif McKenzie, president of Watson Furniture. “Our approach has been to take steps throughout our business that actually make a difference rather than focusing on one or two high visibility projects that “feel good” but don’t ultimately have much real impact. We’re much more interested in ‘doing good’ than ‘feeling good.’ ”
The company’s low-impact manufacturing practices, waste reduction efforts, recycling programs, and heavy reliance on recycled materials position it among leading environmental manufacturing concerns in its region. Previously, Watson was one of six Washington companies to receive the Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Practices, and it is the only manufacturing company to hold a Five-Star rating in the Western Washington Envirostars Program. In 2005, the Association of Washington Businesses honored Watson with its Environmental Excellence Award.
Now, the honors have reached a national scale, perhaps in part as a result of the company’s more unique environmental practices. For example, Watson’s manufacturing facility looks to have been set down in the middle of a field. The abandoned apple orchard the company reclaimed for more productive use has been carefully seeded with native field grasses that don’t require fertilizer, artificial watering, or constant mowing.
Inside, the company continues to make attractive, European-inspired office furnishings with waste material collected from the floors of mills and other lumber operations in the region. “It’s particle board,” McKenzie said. We haven’t shied away from this material or pursued fads like agri-boards or bamboo, which come with their own environmental issues. We are proud to continue crafting recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills into beautiful, useful products that last for the long haul.”