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What Is Eco-Friendly Furniture, and Are Your Home Furnishings Sustainable?

Whether you’re moving into a new house, looking for a new apartment, or upgrading an outdated room in your home, you need furniture. The tables, chairs, couches, dressers, and beds we put in our homes are major financial investments, so it’s important to choose items that suit your lifestyle for the long-term.

In this article, we’re looking into what eco-friendly furniture is and how to know if your home furnishings are sustainable. Many modern furniture designers are turning an eye to earth-friendly products, so it’s becoming easier than ever to have a choice in what you put in your home.

Recycled and Reclaimed Furniture Materials

If you can incorporate recycled or reclaimed materials into your home furnishings, you’ve already taken a huge step towards sustainability. There’s been a big trend in home design lately to use reclaimed wood from old houses and furniture to make new things. This is also great way to add uniqueness and creativity to your space.

Recycled materials, such as plastic and metal, can also be used to make new furniture. By sticking to recycled materials, you are using fewer natural resources and energy from the earth.

Photo credit: Brisbane City Council via Flickr

Recyclable and Fixable Furniture

Inexpensive, poorly-made, and temporary-use furniture often ends up in trash dumpsters and landfills after just a short amount of time. Look for pieces of furniture that can be taken apart and fixed without too much hassle at home.

If you can repair your own furniture, you’ll be more likely to keep it for longer avoid unnecessary waste. Durability and longevity are very important qualities to keep in mind as you look for new furniture, especially with classic and timeless pieces that can last a lifetime and even be passed down to the next generation.

FSC Certified and Sustainable Wood

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sets standards for forest management practices that are environmentally sustainable and promote safe working conditions. You can find pieces of wood furniture marked with this seal of approval and feel good about your use of forest products. Buying sustainable wood helps prevent deforestation and habitat destruction for many different kinds of animals and plants.

But fortunately, you don’t have to give up wood products in your home for this reason. Sustainable wood typically comes from tree farms grown for the purpose of cutting down trees for human use and from sections of natural forests that are replanted as they are cut down. Bamboo is a type of grass that grows very quickly and can be used to create lovely home furnishings without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

Photo credit: ju5ti via Flickr


Flame Retardants and Toxic Furniture

Another consideration when picking out furniture is what chemicals may have been used to treat the fabrics. Most furniture that was upholstered more than 10 years ago contains brominated flame retardants and chemicals that have been linked to serious health issues, like cancer. Since 2005, furniture makers have put tags on upholstered materials that meet federal standards with no toxic chemicals. The tag may be labeled as “TB117-2013,” for example.

Another material to look out for and be wary of is soy-based foam, because soy isn’t necessarily a sustainable crop. Also, the soy part often only makes up a small percentage of the overall foam material, which is mostly petroleum.

Resources for Buying Eco-Friendly Furniture

Some furniture brands have set themselves apart from the rest in terms of eco-friendliness and sustainability. As a starting point in your shopping endeavors, here are a few brands to learn more about and see if their furniture offerings match your style and budget.

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