Top 10 Tips For Choosing Eco-Friendly Furniture
Green and Eco-friendly furniture options are healthier for the environment and the home. Here are our top 10 tips on how to choose Eco-Friendly furniture:
Buy Heirloom Quality Furniture
The most eco-friendly furniture is furniture that is kept out of the landfill. There’s something to be said about investing in a quality piece of furniture that has been built to last. Think of it like your grandmother’s dining room set that may have been passed down a few generations. By purchasing less and investing a little more money into your furniture will save both you and the environment in the long haul.
Adopt a Minimal Mentality
In this day and age, the consumerist mentality is crippling to the environment. By owning less in general, like furniture, you’ll be cutting back on your contributing waste, which will decrease your carbon footprint. The minimal lifestyle infuses the “less is more” mentality with flexibility. You can cut back on how much you own by buying pieces that are practical and multipurpose. A low stool can also double as a side table when not being used as another seat.
Buy Furniture Built from Certified Sustainable Wood
It’s well known that trees are integral to the earth maintaining it’s balance. Unfortunately, deforestation and other unsustainable harvest methods have devastated this natural resource. When looking for green furniture options, look for wooden furniture that has been crafted from sustainably harvested forests, tree farms, and even reclaimed wood. Products that are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure that the wood that’s being used has been sustainably harvested.
Find Products Made With Recycled Materials
Recycling materials requires far less processing and fewer resources than what’s needed for producing new materials. Buying products that are produced out of recycled materials helps to support the market for recycled materials. It’s important to be aware of what “recyclable” actually means. Look for products that are certified Cradle to Cradle (C2C), and avoid products that are “monstrous hybrids,” which can’t be taken apart and recycled appropriately.
Buy Pieces That Can Be Recycled
Eco-friendly furniture should be easily recyclable. Look for products that are made of recyclable materials and can be disassembled easily for recycling once they’ve come to the end of their usable lives. Choosing recyclable furniture will help keep them out of the landfill and will allow them to be remade and re-purposed.
Look for Bamboo Furniture
Bamboo is a super sustainable material. It grows fast, is durable, and is easy to work with. It’s an extremely versatile material, one that can be purposed into flooring as well as modern furniture. While it may seem like the key to creating Eco-friendly furniture, it’s not perfect. Some things to be aware of with bamboo: Bamboo furniture is held together by glue, which can contain harsh and toxic chemicals like formaldehyde. While bamboo is generally grown in China with few pesticides, bamboo crops do use a ton of water and can suck up all the nutrients in the soil.
Opt for Reclaimed Wood
Furniture that’s made out of reclaimed wood recycles wood from old buildings, furniture, old fences, and plenty of other places. Since wood is a material that can last a long, long time, especially when it’s been taken care of, re-purposing it is a green way to maximize resource efficiency.
Some materials that are used to create furniture are made with chemicals that continue to release substances into the air, which is known as offgassing. Everything offgasses, which may or may not be harmful depending on what the material is made out of or has been treated with. Chemicals like flame retardants and formaldehyde are the most common, and consequently most toxic, chemicals found in furniture. Furniture that is Greenguard certified, like Herman Miller and Knoll, both brands that offer Greenguard certified furniture options, ensures that furniture is low toxicity. A great way to avoid toxic off-gassing is to look for furniture that has been treated with natural substances or has been left untreated, like natural wood. Couches that have been upholstered in organic cotton is less likely to have been treated with chemicals.
Flame Retardant Free
Rather than offgassing like other chemicals, flame retardants fall out of upholstery. This is because they’re powders, which then can get mixed in with dust and pet dander around the house. While flame retardants are meant to keep you safe, there isn’t much proof of them actually doing anything more than releasing toxic fumes while your couch burns away. Avoid products that built with foam and opt for wool, natural latex, or cotton down instead. You can also check with the manufacturer to find out if any flame retardants have been used.
Do Your Research
When looking around for eco-friendly furniture, it’s best to do your research before purchasing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out where the wood in your furniture comes from, what chemicals your furniture may have been treated with, and familiarize yourself with the various certification terms like Greengaurd and BIFMA.
Whitney is the senior web designer for YLiving. As a mom with an energetic toddler and a large, playful dog she is all about simple, well-designed furniture and storage solutions that make life easier.