Eco-Friendly Furniture for Newbies

In case you needed extra motivation to stop acting a couch potato, consider this: Your sofa could be toxic.

At least that's according to a catchy headline at the Today Show website. The piece noted that furniture is treated with chemicals, such as formaldehyde, flame-retardants, finishes and foam cushions, which then release gases into our homes — and worse, our lungs.

Called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), these chemicals are off-gassed into the air, and have been linked to cancer and birth defects.

So what are we to do? After all, most of us can't afford to replace our furnishings with sustainable and green alternatives overnight.

While a complete overhaul may be out of the question, you can phase in eco-friendly pieces over time. Here are some suggestions on how to get started.

  • When you shop for large pieces, look for furniture that's made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) wood. More furniture makers — especially those with an eco-friendly slant — will provide information on how wood was harvested, whether natural latex is used, and similar information.
  • Check out the Green Home Guide, which promises to help people distinguish between furnishings that are green or just green-washed. They provide tips on the nitty gritty details, such as what to look for if you're buying new counter tops, paint, stone and tiles. They also have Q & As with experts peppered throughout that offer a lot of helpful information.
  • Consider reusing and recycling furniture. That may mean using heirloom furniture, or finding a bargain on Craigslist or Freecycle. Not only is it cheaper, it's better for the planet.
  • In a similar vein, look for furniture that's made from reclaimed materials. There is a growing movement towards using wood that was a kitchen table or a piano or a house in a former life.

 

 

 

 

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