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April 17, 2014  |  Login
Green Furnishings
By Eric Corey Freed
No home is complete without furniture, and several green options are available. Shop carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions. While finding a green floor may be easy, furnishings are more difficult. With so many options available, knowing what to ask or where to look is tough. In this section, I point you in the right direction.


Chairs, tables, and sofas are typically made of cheap particleboard, finished with oil-based lacquers, and stuffed with toxic foam. You can smell these chemicals when you unwrap a new piece of furniture.

Tip: With any furniture, look for the following green features:

  • Reclaimed: Reusing materials salvaged from other uses, reclaimed materials offer old-material quality no longer available. Example: Wood from old wine barrels milled into chairs.
  • Recycled: Unlike reclaimed materials, recycled materials are put back into the material production and reprocessed into new finishes. Sourced from various materials, recycled materials often have slight imperfections that add to the final appearance. Example: Metal tables from recycled metal.
  • Sustainably harvested: Yielding materials without completely destroying the chance for future harvesting, sustainably harvested materials will be around for future generations. Example: Bamboo furniture, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
  • Natural materials: Instead of stuffing cushions with synthetic materials containing harmful chemicals, look for natural latex.
  • Nontoxic finishes: Most furniture is finished with oil-based lacquers; instead, use water-based finishes and adhesives free of VOCs.
Looking for these options will also ensure a healthier home. Companies such as Vivavi ( and Furnature ( offer only products with these green features.

Draperies and Fabrics

The fabrics making up your drapes, curtains, and sofa coverings are typically dyed with polluting pigments on synthetic fabric.

Natural fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, and natural wool offer healthier alternatives. Exciting new fabrics made from polylactic acid (PLA) are becoming more available. PLA is a natural material made from corn; it’s recyclable and biodegradable. Companies like NatureWorks (, Interface (http://www.interfaceflooring. more



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