Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

I just married Steve in May, and we recently moved into our new apartment! Our new home needed a couch, because we were each moving in from our parent’s places. Couldn’t exactly take one of theirs with us. So I went on the hunt for the most sustainable couch I could find. It wasn’t exactly easy, but I came across Sabai Design and was intrigued. Not only did their couch designs catch my eye (they’re gorgeous), but the fact they used recycled materials in their products hooked me right in. So: We purchased their “essential sectional” and WHOA, is it essential to our apartment now. Best decision ever. Here’s my full Sabai Design review and why you are going to LOVE this amazing brand.

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Sabai Design Review: The Eco Couch of My Dreams

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

What’s wrong with conventional couches?

We didn’t want to buy a conventional couch for our apartment because most furniture is made using virgin materials, which have a high environmental impact.

Let me explain: Virgin materials, like the polyester that covers most couches, are anything extracted directly from nature without processing. Crude oil is the raw material that’s needed to make something like polyester. To get it, it must be extracted from the earth (think ocean mining, fracking, etc.) and then, transported and formed into a workable material such as polyester. This is typically done in fossil fuel powered factories that also create lots of chemical waste as byproduct. So, at all steps of its life cycle, crude oil (a virgin material) has a huge carbon footprint, contributes to pollution and harms biodiversity.

In short, virgin materials are harming the planet. And most are not created to last.

While a couch will certainly last longer than a single-use plastic cup, most couches still aren’t made to be repaired. If something stains it, or tears it, the company that made the couch doesn’t exactly do anything to help repair or fix that.

Unless you have the skills to sew it back up, or embroider over the stain, you may have to think about replacing the entire couch – which leads to wasted money, and a landfilled item.

That’s why, ideally, Steve and I wanted a couch that would last the test of time, and align with my ethics. And we still wanted it to look cute!

But what couch could live up to that?? Certainly not with big name furniture brands. Well…

Enter Sabai Design…my dream eco couch. And lets get into that.

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

Why Sabai Design?

Sabai Design is a BIPOC, woman-founded company based in NYC that does something amazing: It offers a repairable couch (and more furniture!) made from recycled materials. How exactly? Let’s talk about it.

While most couches are made from several individual components, they’re manufactured as if these parts are one big whole. Meaning, when you buy a conventional couch, there’s little to no assistance offered if a pillow tears or a leg breaks.

repairable parts

However, Sabai Design has an industry leading Repair Don’t Replace program that lets customers pick up replacement parts to their sofas! This is HUGE! No other couch company I know does that – but they SHOULD.

Have a cat with a habit of scratching the cushion cover? No worries – Sabai has replacement parts for that. Dog chewed up the couch legs? You can replace that too.

Not only does this save you a ton of money, and help reduce waste, but it also is a fun way to revamp your home!

For example, lets say you’re tired of the color you choose for your couch, or it doesn’t go as well with your new home. Instead of buying a whole NEW couch, you can just get new seat cushion covers and pillows in a new color you prefer at a fraction of the price.

I think that’s just so great and innovative. We need more companies thinking like this.

This couch is built to last. In fact, you may never have to buy a new couch again…

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

eco-friendly materials

Sabai Design crafts furniture with upcycled and recycled materials. All the materials used are thoughtfully selected and there’s no toxic off-gassing.

Sabai Design’s sustainable couch material choices include:

  • FSC-certified wood frame.
  • Wood Legs made from domestically-sourced maple.
  • Metal Legs made from non-toxic machined solid aluminum. 
  • CertiPUR-US certified high resiliency foam.
  • 100% Recycled fiber fill pillows. 
  • No toxic flame retardants or added formaldehydes. 
  • Upholstered in our selection of 100% upcycled and recycled fabrics. 

When you purchase a couch from Sabai Design, you can rest assured that these materials are not virgin ones that harm the environment simply from extraction alone.

You can choose between two kinds of materials when picking your couch (loveseats, chairs and ottomans are also available!): Recycled velvet or upcycled polyester. It’s all depends on the look you’re going for, but there are several colors to choose from based on the material you go with.

They also just added a new sofa style, with an additional material: Hemp! And their new couches have an all-natural coconut fiber core too.

Can’t decide on what material to go with? They have free swatches available as well so you can see what will look good with your walls/floors. Plus, you can feel the material for yourself. You can even choose the leg color/material!

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

buy back program

You can trade in your old Sabai furniture, or buy one secondhand with their Sabai Revive program. It’s the 1st furniture buy back program (!!!) that ensures every phase of their product’s life cycle is accounted for.

So, how does it work? Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you ever want to say goodbye, all you have to do is fill out their BUYBACK FORM to initiate a buy back.
  • Their support team will ask for photos and any additional details they may need so they can find your piece a new home. If sold, they’ll pay you back up to 25% of the re-sale price!
  • They’ll help get you boxes and schedule a pickup to ship the old product. You win, and its new owner wins too! Bonus: If possible they’ll ship customer to customer to reduce emissions.

Honestly, I cannot picture myself saying goodbye to my Sabai any time soon. BUT, if I wanted to trade it in for a different design, this could be a cool option to consider!

Plus, for those looking to grab a discount, getting a secondhand Sabai piece is a great option that also keeps things in a closed loop.

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

Sabai Design Review: My experience with their essential sectional

One of the most popular items Sabai sells is their essential sectional couch (pictured in all photos). And I can certainly see why.

It has over 126 4.5 star star reviews – for good reason. They truly stand out with that sleek design and bold, fun color usage.

My essential sectional is made from the recycled velvet fabric. It’s in the color moss. When I tell you I get SO many compliments on how unique and pretty my couch is, I’m not exaggerating.

It goes so well with the earthy vibes I’m setting for the apartment, but it is also the most comfortable couch I’ve ever sat on. I say that without hesitation. Let me explain why…

Not only can you put your feet up, but the fabric is so soft and smooth, it feels like it’s cradling you in a gentle hug when you lie back into it. I could easily fall asleep on this couch.

My father actually stood over my apartment the night before my wedding while I slept at my parents apartment with my mom and my maid of honor. He slept on the couch – re-read that. He SLEPT on the night of my wedding – with no qualms or worries – on my couch. That’s how comfy it was.

The sofa is made-to-order, so it takes several weeks to arrive. When it arrived, it came in various big cardboard boxes. There was definitely assembly required, and I’ll admit, we needed help from Steve’s dad (he’s a handyman) and brother. Thankfully, there were helpful assembly videos to watch on Sabai’s site.

I personally love how the sectional can be attached to either the left or right side of the couch. It can be re-adjusted at any time too, making it perfect for adapting to a new space if we ever move.

Overall, I’m absolutely in love with this sofa and highly recommend it! 10/10, 5 star rating from me!

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

Cleaning + care tips

It’s important to me that my couch continues to look amazing, because I love having friends and family over! So I like to upkeep it as much as possible. Thankfully, Sabai has made that very easy.

I’ll do a quick sweep with my reusable lint roller to get all the dust bits off. If I have more time, I’ll use the vacuum cleaner on it but I haven’t had to do more than that.

Their fabric is inherently stain and scratch resistant, making them GREAT options for those with pets. If you have a cat with sharp claws, Sabai recommends their velvet fabric as it has a tighter weave.

As far as deep cleaning goes, Sabai recommends this for each fabric:

Recycled Velvet fabric: Use gentle household cleaning products. If possible, place a clean towel behind the fabric to absorb any excess moisture. We recommend spraying and dabbing all the way the seams to avoid any water rings from drying. This fabric can also be machine washed on delicate with cold water and then air dried or tumble dried with no heat. 

Upcycled Poly fabric: You can use household cleaning products, including a bleach solution, without being damaged. Most general house cleaners will work, as long as they are NOT solvent based (most are not). We recommend spraying and dabbing all the way the seams to avoid any water rings from drying. Alternatively, you can also hand wash with cold water and air dry – no heat. 

Hemp fabric: Machine wash on gentle with cold water then tumble dry on low. Do not bleach and wash only with similar colors. Lay flat to air dry, do not tumble dry to avoid the possibility of shrinkage. Ironing and steaming are okay on low heat to reduce wrinkles, be sure not to leave the heat on one spot for too long and move continuously.

Sustainability points: washing on cold and air drying saves energy too!

Sabai Design Review: The Sustainable Couch of My Dreams

Sabai Design Q+A

Still have a few questions my Sabai Design review didn’t answer? Here are the most commonly asked questions about Sabai Design. As always, feel free to comment any other questions you may have and I will try to answer them as best I can!

Where is Sabai furniture manufactured?

Sabai furniture is made in ethically run factories in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Michigan – all committed to quality, safety, and a living wage.

Where is Sabai design located?

Sabai Design’s headquarters are located in New York City, but they don’t currently have a showroom.

Is Sabai furniture non-toxic?

As a Certified B Corporation, Sabai utilizes local non-toxic materials, responsibly sourced wood, and recycled, upcycled, and natural fabrics. Their furniture does not contain any flame retardants and they do not use glue to upholster their furniture.

Okay you guys, that was my full Sabai Design review! What do you think? Would you give this amazing couch a try?

Interested in making your home low waste and non-toxic? Check out my Caraway Cookware Review next!

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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