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Room & Board Installs Sustainability Expert

With sustainability becoming a bigger priority for many home goods brands and companies like Pottery Barn and Parachute making commitments to improving their environmental impact, Room & Board announces the addition of Emily McGarvey as the company’s first director of sustainability.

McGarvey previously served as Target’s director of corporate social responsibility, helping develop the corporation’s sustainability program, and facilitating initiatives such as the company’s chemical management and transparency policy, as well as its car seat trade-in program. In 2018, she founded Star Impact Consulting, where she provided strategy and branding for both for-profit and nonprofit business sectors, such as the Apparel Impact Institute.

“My prior roles in both consulting and in retail have given me broad sustainability experience, from sustainable products to sustainable operations, and I bring that with me to Room & Board,” she said. “I have experience in rolling out enterprise-wide strategies and initiatives related to sustainable materials, climate, renewable energy, and product take-back.”

At Room & Board, McGarvey will work on expanding the company’s sustainability efforts, which already include 90 percent domestic production, sourcing sustainable or reclaimed wood and making products with natural materials.

“Going forward, we’ll be looking for more opportunities to sustainably source key raw materials,” McGarvey said. “We are leaning in on staff well-being, building meaningful vendor relationships, and increasing our philanthropic efforts for people and the planet. And we’ll be exploring opportunities for efficiency, renewable energy and the electrification of our fleet.”

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McGarvey’s hiring is the latest move from Room & Board to reduce its environmental impact and improve sustainability. The company has launched several initiatives over the past few years, including a partnership with the USDA Forest Service for the Urban Wood Project, which allows Room & Board to reclaim wood from old buildings destined for demolition and downed urban trees to repurpose them as home furnishings.

“Hiring Emily and defining this role was the logical next step in our pledge to fight climate change and ensure we’re doing our part to protect the planet for generations to come,” said Bruce Champeau, president and chief operating officer at Room & Board. “Room & Board has always been dedicated to local industries to craft our furniture. This model has allowed us to mitigate unnecessary waste and reduce the distance materials travel. We’ve proven that American made is not just smart business, it is also smarter environmentally.”

Emily McGarvey will helm Room & Board's sustainability endeavors.
Emily McGarvey will helm Room & Board’s sustainability endeavors. Courtesy

McGarvey said Room & Board’s existing sustainability programs were a big draw for her, as was its company culture.

“Room & Board has sustainability in its DNA,” she said. “Modern design combined with quality construction creates timeless furniture that lasts. And durability is a major factor in sustainability. Room & Board is also well known in Minneapolis as a great place to work with an incredible people-focused culture.”

McGarvey said she feels a responsibility to maximize the impact of this role and help position Room & Board as a leader in sustainability in the home goods sector.

“Every company within every industry needs to take action to mitigate impacts to our communities and the planet we all share,” she said. “In the home furnishings category, nearly 10,000 tons of furniture goes into landfills annually. Room & Board is dedicated to combatting those impacts through furniture that has an enduring place in customers’ homes, in addition to using recycled materials where possible to eliminate even more from the waste stream.”