My Search for the Perfect, Affordable Green Desk

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As much as I love to decorate, sometimes I really hate shopping for furniture. Why, you ask? Simply put, because of my conscience.

I am in the market for a new desk. In order to be closer to my daughter’s doctors, we are moving about an hour away into a smaller apartment. We currently use our third bedroom as a studio/office space. In the new apartment, I will have to use the small, narrow sunroom as an office space. This necessitates buying a new desk, because my current one is entirely too large for the space.

My first course of action: trying to find a used desk. I have been to literally every thrift and consignment store in town and have been watching Craigslist like a hawk. Everything I’ve found is either too big, too damaged or made of the same cheap MDF I’m hoping to avoid. And so I started looking for new desks. There’s a part of me that wants to buy the cheapest, most stylish option. But then I start looking at where desks like this were made and what they’re made of, and it makes me cringe. I’ve spent days and hours on end trying to find a desk with as much green cred as possible that I can actually afford.

The Greenest Desks

desks-orchid

ORCHID BAMBOO DESK BY GREENINGTON: This is easily my favorite of all the desks I’ve found. It is clean and simple enough to fit into any decor and it is available the dark color that I love (Espresso). I do suspect it may be a little too large at 60″ wide. Because my Mac doesn’t require a tower, I don’t need a lot of desktop space, and I don’t have a lot of space to work with. The price also hurts my feelings a little. I certainly understand why it costs so much, but it’s still out of reach. If this were the only cost associated with our move, we could probably swing it. But with moving truck to rent, movers to pay, etc., the initial cost is just too high, at least for now. Why It’s Green: Made of organic Moso bamboo. Best Price I Could Find: $599 w/free shipping

desks-knu1

KNU DESK 1: You’ll begin to see a trend here: Simplicity. Because the desk will be very visible as soon as you walk in the front door and won’t be allotted much space, I want a piece with few frills. This very simple piece from Knu fits all the criteria and is still big enough to accommodate my Mac. Another of my favorites that’s priced out of reach. Why It’s Green: Made of FSC certified wood whenever possible and available in six eco-friendly veneer choices. Best Price I Could Find: $789 (aff)

desks-rekindle

REKINDLE DESK BY INMODERN: This is easily the most unique among all the green desks I’ve found, with it’s bowed legs and rounded edges. It’s also available in a fabulous steel gray finish that’s unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. But is it too unique? Seems like it might be, because the Rekindle is hard to find. On the plus side, the price is quite a bit lower than the two options above, and it comes with lots of green features. Why It’s Green: Made of FSC-certified SmartWood, formaldehyde free and finished with water-based stains, ships flat-packed, all materials sourced in North America, and designed and manufactured in USA. Best Price I Could Find: $420.

desks-linear

LINEAR DESK BY INMODERN: Easily the most affordable of the truly eco-friendly desks. No real complaints about the price. But it’s really not ideal in terms of style. It would work, but I can picture myself looking at it for months and months wondering if I should have picked something else. Again, on the plus side though, it does have a complementary storage bookcase, which is something else I’d like to get for the single wall in the sunroom. And I actually like this piece. Why It’s Green: Made of FSC-certified SmartWood, formaldehyde free and finished with water-based stains, ships flat-packed, all materials sourced in North America, and designed and manufactured in USA. Best Price I Could Find: $246.99 (aff)

desks-eastbreeze

DIRECTIONS EAST BREEZE DESK: I like this desk, really, but something about it doesn’t feel right for my needs. Still, it’s reasonably green and very stylish, and it has a matching bookcase. Why It’s Green: Made of recyclable stainless steel with a bamboo top and finished with a water-based stain. Best Price I Could Find: $359.99 (aff)

Cheaper Desks I’m Considering

desks-walmart

HOMETRENDS WELGROVE DESK: I really like the style of this desk, and the price makes it even more attractive. BUT, I have a lot of questions about it’s construction. For instance, the desk has a Paulownia wood finish, but is it made of solid wood, or just veneers over MDF? Does it contain formaldehyde? Were non-toxic stains or finishes used?I really have to decide whether the price justifies all those questions. Why It May Be Green: Made with fast-growing Paulownia wood and a recyclable steel frame. Price: $149.99

desks-uo

UO CONVERTIBLE SIDE TABLE: This technically isn’t a desk, but given it’s dimensions, it would work great for this purpose. The “convertible” part of the table is it’s height. It can be used as a coffee table at 28.5″ tall, or as a desk, dining table, console, etc. at up to 30″ tall. Useful, but I’m still not sure if it’s ideal since it’s green credentials are sketchy and it’s not exactly the most stylish table I’ve ever seen. Why It’s Green: Made of recyclable iron with a mango wood top (mango wood is harvested only after the trees are no longer bearing fruit). Price: $199.99.

The more I look at this list, the more I’m leaning toward one of the pieces from InModern. The difference in price from the cheaper options doesn’t seem worth all my questions. But I want the Orchid desk. And therein lies the reason why I’m hating this particular shopping excursion. Maybe if I’m able to make enough from the sale of my current desk on Craigslist, I’ll be able to afford the Orchid. Universe, do you hear that?

If you’ve come across any other green desks that caught your eye, I’d love hear about them in the comments below!

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13 comments… add one

  • Kelli February 22, 2010, 5:13 pm

    OOOOH love these!!!

  • Lynn February 22, 2010, 5:49 pm

    I so feel your pain! You\’ve got some beautiful choices here. But on the savings side, have you considered making one? I don\’t mean building one, but for instance, finding some IKEA table legs on Craigslist (I\’m not looking now, but did find some once upon a time). I wonder if you can buy a piece of bamboo flooring that might fit? I have no idea if this is possible, but if you don\’t need drawers and what you\’re looking for is simply something the right height that looks nice, maybe something like this would work? Not sure you want to bother either with all you have going on,but it\’s a thought. Good luck and let us know what you choose!

    • jennae February 23, 2010, 9:07 am

      Hi Lynn! I actually did consider that, but given all the other things we have to do in the next month (like packing…ugh!) I doubt I’ll have time. I actually looked into buying a sheet of bamboo ply, but that would cost almost as much as one of these desks :(

  • designs February 23, 2010, 8:41 am

    one great idea is to take an old desk and refurbish or restore it. I like the before and after post so that will be a reason to come back and comment more.

    • jennae February 23, 2010, 9:09 am

      I actually have been looking for an old desk, but I haven’t been able to find anything that would work for me. Turns out that most traditional desks are just too deep for my needs, so it’s back to the drawing board on my search.

  • Tyler Richeal February 24, 2010, 7:52 am

    I know what you mean. I am looking for a new desk as well. I mean I have a very tiny room and its only about 8×7. I would love a desk that I could hang from the wall and it just almost kinda float. If you come up on anything under about $100 please e-mail. Thanks I love your stories and your chioces.

    • jennae February 24, 2010, 11:31 am

      Tyler, I actually have seen a wall-mount desk, but not under $100 :( It’s beautiful, but expensive. It’s the Lax Desk from Bobby Berk Home: http://tinyurl.com/laxdesk

      If you are looking for a wall-mount option in that price point, you may have to look at a shelf that is deep enough to be used as a desk. This option from CB2 is meant to be used as a wall-mount nightstand, but depending on how much space you need, it MIGHT work, and it costs $149.99. It’s not very wide though, so you might consider putting two of them next to each other (although that would blow your budget) It’s not VERY green, with bamboo veneer over wood composite, but it’s the only thing I can think of off the top of my head that’s closer to your price range: http://tinyurl.com/ybes84j

      At that price point, you really might want to consider building one.

  • Janco February 25, 2010, 10:43 am

    Hello Janae and friends,

    I think making a desk from scratch is a great idea. I want to recommend one of my favorite stores in the Bronx. A little jewel called Rebuilders Source. I recently bought an antique desk from the 1950′s that was sanded to the raw wood… Bought it for $45, put a new coat of wood polish on it, and it is BEAUTIFUL!

    • jennae February 25, 2010, 2:29 pm

      Janco, that looks like a pretty great resource, but it’s in NY and I’m in the Atlanta area. I’ve actually planned another visit to the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore in hopes that I find a desk, along with a dresser I can refinish for my daughter’s room. Don’t you just love builder surplus and used furniture stores?

  • Dan February 26, 2010, 1:26 pm

    It sounds like your efforts at the greenest option (re-use) have been admirable. I’d suggest, if you’re ready to spend $400 or more on something new anyway, buying some nice reclaimed timber and having a local woodworker build something. You could use a couple nice pieces for the top, and some more humble stuff for the base, and put a nice finish on it. Custom woodwork isn’t necessarily cheap, but you might just find someone good who loves doing it. Cabinet and furniture makers are rarely paid much for their time, even when the tag sounds expensive, because they love doing it.

    • jennae February 26, 2010, 4:42 pm

      Definitely something I have considered, particularly because I’ll need to find a woodworker for another project anyway. Now I just have to find out where I can source reclaimed lumber around here.

  • Corey Loranger January 11, 2012, 1:50 pm

    Hi Jennae!

    Just wanted to say I really appreciate your article!
    I’ve been shopping online for the past 2 days and have found it quite frustrating. I’m also looking for something cool in design, enviro friendly and affordable. I actually found an article about the ReKindle on TreeHugger and loved it but you’re right! …they’re hard to find. You’re article helped me find one and also find another model that I enjoy (the East Breeze).
    Thank you! Now following your blgs and twitter!
    Very refreshing! Keep it up!
    Corey (from Canada)

  • Susie June 8, 2012, 10:41 pm

    Nice post! Always tough to find goodlooking green furniture, I appreciate anyone who attempts to provide sources. Thanks!

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