When you think about it, we are a people pretty ingenious at making use of scrap parts. It’s pretty much a mentality that stems from the fear of sayang, or waste. In terms of food, think of intestines grilled to make isaw and bones boiled for bulalo (or if we’re being trendy, bone broth). With materials like cloth, scrap pieces sewn together to make rags come to mind, while scratch paper is churned into a soft pulp, then pressed and dried to make sturdier board paper.
So it was just a matter of time before one of our own found a way to make use of discarded natural materials, like fallen bark and twigs, dead shrubs, and other agro-forest waste. Pete Delantar, Jr., president and CEO of Nature’s Legacy, a Cebu-based furniture company, was sure that he wanted to create products that were stylish, but also reduced logging needs. Taking all the unwanted parts that were usually thrown away in the process of manufacturing furniture, he developed a natural and sustainable material called Naturecast.
This reevaluation also extended to his entire company, ensuring his operations are biodegradable, recyclable, and environmentally conscious. “The business model is much deeper than it appears. Whether it’s manufacturing or socially-inclined practices, the employees benefit from them. It is a new way of addressing CSR,” he points out.
Today, his company exports furniture to 41 countries in Europe, America, and Asia, and is available in furniture shops, like Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and West Elm. His products have also gained international recognition—an iconic chair made of mango seeds appearing in the celebrity lounge of the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008.
His company’s biggest legacy, however, isn’t the approval of the A-list; it’s Pete’s invitation to be a founding member in the Sustainable Furniture Council, a US-based, non-profit organization aimed to promote sustainable practices among manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. The fact that he is the only Filipino to be given the opportunity ensures that in one way or another, he’s made his mark.
Source: Denise Danielle Alcantara for Red Magazine, “Green Inside Out,” October 2014