The Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic and Family-Safe Furniture

The Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic and Family-Safe Furniture

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One of the hardest challenges to reaching a aware life-style is selecting your furnishings. It might be laborious to really wrap your head round — a lot much less keep away from — the a whole lot of poisonous chemical compounds utilized in and on a typical sofa, mattress, and desk. But it’s well worth the effort — we spend extra time with it than virtually every other client product.

However, there are specific overarching rules to information us towards eco-friendly sofas, tables, cupboards and chairs. First, let’s begin with some primary ideas. Then, we’ll let you know the furnishings manufacturers we approve of. 

What to search for in eco-friendly furnishings

Finishes: Some manufacturers prime off their furnishings with stains and finishes which might be made with dangerous petroleum and chemical-based solvents. These merchandise emit unstable natural chemical compounds (VOCs), which may have severe well being penalties. Some wooden finishes include the known carcinogen benzene, and publicity could cause pores and skin and eye irritation, nausea and even unconsciousness. With longer publicity, it’s been reported that benzene can cause leukemia.

We advocate avoiding textile efficiency finishes which might be stain repellent, anti-odor, fire-retardant, or anti-bacterial. Certain fireplace retardants expose you to well being problems such as thyroid cancer, and a category of flame retardants in couches has led to an increase of hyperthyroidism in cats within the final 40 years. While many international locations have phased out or banned the manufacturing of those chemical compounds within the early to mid-2000s, hazardous flame retardants are nonetheless current in lots of households in older furnishings and home equipment. A number of harmful chemical compounds, like Tris(2-chloroethyl) Phosphate—frequent in mattress and couch foam—are nonetheless ubiquitous in new beds and sofas, despite the fact that the EPA is undergoing a risk evaluation, and the chemical is banned in Europe

Instead, search for low or unhazardous and low- or no-VOC merchandise, which don’t off-gas dangerous fumes. Also, be sure you favor formaldehyde-free manufacturers and merchandise. Formaldehyde is utilized in furnishings glues and compressed wooden. High ranges within the dwelling could cause pores and skin and eye irritation and respiratory issues. In industrial settings, research have proven formaldehyde could cause cancer.

Materials: Look for supplies which have a low environmental impression. Note that pure fibers are additionally much less doubtless than synthetics or semi-synthetics to include dyes and finishes that may trigger allergic reactions and well being issues.

Lifecycle: Furniture is usually an funding piece, due to this fact you wish to make sure the design is timeless and the supplies and building are sturdy in order that once you’re accomplished, you’ll be able to resell it as an alternative of taking it to the landfill. Also, purchase issues that may be repaired and refinished — like strong wooden as an alternative of artificial particle board. 

Fair labor and transparency: As with all the things you purchase, examine for honest labor practices. Look for manufacturers that prioritize transparency and third-party certifications like Fairtrade International and SA8000.

Made in America: Although made within the U.S. doesn’t always mean your product is 100% ethical, a number of furnishings manufacturers listed beneath create their merchandise below stringent office and environmental rules. Plus, by shopping for regionally, you lower the carbon footprint on transport, and your wait time for it to reach! 

Let’s now break it down by dwelling areas:

An condominium’s central chill zone is the lounge. Most of us like to seek out soft consolation—which means upholstered furnishings. To get the smooth padding utilized in upholstery, we’re taking a look at cushions or foam wrapped in cloth or leather-based. The predominant points listed below are:


The commonest internal cushion materials is polyurethane foam, a plastic polymer containing the poisonous chemical compounds methyloxirane (aka propylene oxide), categorised by the EPA as a “probable human carcinogen” and toluene, a fossil-fuel chemical ingredient that may trigger cardiac arrhythmia in industrial settings. Avoid!

You could have heard of soy-based foam as an eco-alternative, but it surely sometimes solely incorporates a most of fifty% of soy-based foam, the remainder being polyurethane. Soy additionally brings a bunch of different issues, similar to pesticide use, genetically modified crops, appropriation of meals shares, and deforestation.

Better to go for a pure rubber foam cushion, generally known as pure latex, a renewable, sustainable useful resource harvested from the rubber tree. Ask for natural Dunlop latex to make sure there are not any artificial chemical compounds added. You may even discover Global Organic Latex Standard certified (GOLS) for the cleanest choice.

Other supplies utilized in cushions create various levels of softness and provides. These embody internal coils, down, batting and foam. Coils might be product of recycled steel. Batting or padding exists in a variety of pure, time-proven supplies, together with wool, coconut fiber (aka coir), kapok, bamboo, or cotton (ideally natural).

Down provides an additional inviting softness, nonetheless, there are troubling ethical issues around down production in terms of animal welfare and lack of regulations. It’s additionally excessive upkeep, needing frequent plumping and fluffing to retain its form and loft. So except you will have a housekeeper or love the zen act of fluffing, you’ll be able to skip this one.


Whenever doable, choose natural fabrics like natural cotton or linen, and keep away from synthetics like petroleum-based polyester. Definitely keep away from vinyl (PVC) which is produced with phthalates, a gaggle of chemical compounds which might be considered related to neurological impairments in kids and reproductive improvement issues. PVC also can emit the highly toxic dioxin throughout manufacturing. Plus, it has the icky, sticky behavior of adhering to the backs of your legs when sat upon.

Ask for untreated materials since stain and fire-resistant chemical compounds are linked to a slew of well being and environmental dangers. To scratch the floor, so to talk, they had been traditionally linked to fatal hyperthyroidism in cats. While these chemical compounds have since been phased out of the U.S. and Europe, they’re nonetheless present in resale furnishings and there may be hypothesis present flame retardant could also be related to cancer in humans (especially children), and are toxic to other life forms once they enter the surroundings. By searching for out GOTS or Oeko-Tex certified fabrics, you’ll be able to keep away from these poisonous culprits and unfavorable social impacts too. Better but, choose Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Certified, an entire life cycle normal requiring materials to be upcyclable.


Though it’s an animal product, leather is a really sturdy upholstery materials. Be conscious that the majority leather-based manufacturing employs chromium and different poisonous chemical compounds within the tanning and dyeing processes and sometimes uses child labor. Vegetable-tanned, chromium-free leathers are preferable, however be ready to cope with stiffer leather-based that must be damaged in. There are additionally eco certifications for leather-based, like Oeko-Tex or the European Naturtextil IVN certification, assuring low-impact manufacturing and safety of employees’ well being. Buying used or classic is a wonderful compromise because you’re extending the lifetime of the leather-based.


Look for Forest Stewardship Council licensed (FSC), reclaimed or salvaged wooden, or recycled metal. Frames must be designed for longevity, and ideally, to be simply disassembled for recycling.

Cabinets, Storage & Occasional Furniture

Next, let’s take into account case items – TV/media cupboards, shelving and storage. Most cabinetry and storage are product of wooden. Source salvaged (from fallen bushes), reclaimed (from outdated barns) or FSC certified. Some aware producers use low- or no-VOC glues, paints, and finishes, which means they launch minimal or no poisonous chemical compounds into your private home. Check labels and ask salespeople whether or not the finishes are low VOC or water-based, though water-based finishes are sometimes polyurethane, which means plastic.

You might also need (or want) a workstation at dwelling. Desks and work chairs pose the identical materials and end points outlined. For espresso tables, you could come throughout some irresistible 70’s or different classic plastic/plexi choices, however sticking with steel or wooden—recycled, salvaged, or classic—with or with out a glass prime is a preferable approach to go. Thin plastic from any period tends to break simply, whereas sarcastically taking a whole lot of years to degrade into smaller and smaller items of persistently polluting plastic bits.

Dining Area 

This is the place we particularly favor going with “pre-loved” or classic furnishings. You can discover higher high quality craftsmanship and wooden, together with extra character and distinctive types for cheap costs.

If shopping for new, keep away from plastics similar to polyethylene, polyacrylate, and polycarbonate. Even in the event that they’re constructed from recycled plastic or are theoretically recyclable, plastic furnishings is usually not accepted by recycling services. As talked about, low-cost plastics aren’t sturdy and are nearly unimaginable to restore. Choose glass, licensed or salvaged wooden, or steel. But ideally not chrome–completed steel as a result of it’s made with chromium, which is extremely poisonous and carcinogenic when inhaled by the employees who produce chrome plating. Prioritize strong building when selecting eating chairs since they get loads of put on and tear by each day use and the occasional raucous ceremonial dinner.

Bedroom Furniture

The most vital aspect to spend money on, and to vet for toxicity, is the mattress. (Here’s our complete guide to choosing a non-toxic mattress).

Dressers are a really perfect piece to introduce character and an esthetic twist. Opt for classic or take into account splurging on a well-made modern piece.

Side tables present a fantastic alternative to get artistic. Consider wine crates, salvaged wooden tree trunks, hand-carved African stools, small steamer trunks or different discovered objects with a fair floor that encourage desires.

How and the place to purchase sustainable furnishings

First, we advocate you examine in with household or buddies. Maybe your mother and father are downsizing, or your mates are redecorating. Let them know you’re out there, and you could rating high quality items inexpensively and even free in the event that they’re feeling beneficiant. If that isn’t fruitful, go to resellers—on-line and off. Check your native Goodwill, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, or used furnishings seller for inexpensive finds. There are sometimes gems blended in with all the things and at wonderful costs. 

Keep in thoughts that older upholstered furnishings from the Seventies to the 2000s might need fireplace retardants on it, although loads of it might need already sloughed off by the point you get your fingers on it, and different VOCs might need already accomplished most of their off-gassing. It’s as much as you your consolation stage right here. 

Founded in 2000, 1stDibs is a web based market that sells eclectic, high-quality items, from furnishings and positive artwork to jewellery and trend. It options listings from a worldwide community of trusted sellers, every of whom has been completely vetted by its in-house specialists. Shoppers could make purchases straight, negotiate a value or place bids on objects at public sale. 1stDibs provides new objects to the positioning each week.

AptDeco is a web based market that makes it simple so that you can purchase and promote furnishings within the Northeast and the San Francisco Bay Area. You can discover new and used furnishings items, classic gems, and ground fashions from prime manufacturers like West Elm. Listing an merchandise on AptDeco takes two minutes, and it handles pickup and logistics for you.

eBay provides a big collection of secondhand furnishings so that you can select from.

Sabai Design creates earth-friendly, inexpensive, and delightful furnishings. Its items are made within the U.S. in a family-owned manufacturing unit in High Point, North Carolina that’s dedicated to high quality, security, and a dwelling wage. Sabai Design’s furnishings is crafted with recycled, upcycled, and pure supplies. 

Medley handcrafts its premium furnishings within the U.S. utilizing old-school strategies. They are made safely with none harsh chemical compounds or fireplace retardants. Medley has an in depth couch choice at mid-range costs.

ABC Carpet & Home sources items which might be created with sustainability and honest labor requirements. All of its rugs choice is handmade, and 99% of its wood-based furnishings makes use of sustainably sourced timber. You can store varied manufacturers, together with its in-house line. You can go to ABC Carpet & Home’s NYC showroom or order on-line.

Made Trade curates every kind of furnishings and residential items which might be lovely, timeless, and made by corporations that prioritize ethics, sustainability, and security.  On every product web page, you could find out rather a lot in regards to the model’s values and moral practices, supplies used, and so on., so that you might be an knowledgeable client (with out spending a bunch of time researching). You can read more about why we love Made Trade here.

Founded in 2004, VivaTerra is a retailer that sells modern, artisan-crafted items and earth-friendly items. It sources from and helps artisan communities in additional than 20 international locations throughout the globe, in addition to seeks out fair-trade companions and sustainable strategies of manufacturing.

Founded in 2002, West Elm sells trendy furnishings, housewares and residential decor. It provides a piece of sustainably sourced objects that’s properly value trying out. You can discover salvaged, reclaimed, and FSC-certified wooden furnishings at good costs.

In addition to Avocado’s mattresses made out of pure and natural supplies, it sells furnishings. Its items are made in its personal Los Angeles facility and have reclaimed wooden, eco-friendly supplies, and environmentally aware manufacturing.

The Citizenry has a big selection of furnishings, which incorporates ottomans, chairs, tables and mirrors. The Citizenry is artisan-made, and it collaborates with workshops and artisans all over the world, mixing modern designs with conventional strategies. By partnering with craftspeople, it achieves premium high quality and helps honest commerce requirements.

Maiden Home provides high-quality, handcrafted furnishings made by American craftsmen in North Carolina. Each of its items remains to be handmade to order, utilizing strategies which were handed down by generations. You can store for a wide selection of furnishings, which incorporates sofas, tables, beds and chairs.

What We Make creates finely crafted furnishings that’s non-toxic, environmentally pleasant, and timeless trendy furnishings. It makes use of reclaimed wooden to craft all of its furnishings, which incorporates desks, chairs, tables, and toilet vanities.

Urban Goods Woods is a woman-owned firm that makes use of solely 100% old-growth wooden or salvaged wooden in the entire furnishings it customized makes. You can discover reclaimed wooden tables, desks, chairs and workplace convention tables. All orders are made within the U.S.

Founded in 1982, The Joinery is B Corp certified wooden and upholstered furnishings model. It makes use of traditional woodworking strategies and hardwoods from sustainable forest assets. Each piece of Joinery furnishings is wholly constructed and signed by a person builder in its Portland, Oregon woodshop.

Cisco Home sells sustainable furnishings made in California and North Carolina. Each merchandise is constructed by native craftspeople at its headquarters in Los Angeles. From upholstered furnishings washed in environmentally pleasant detergents to distinctive wooden and steel merchandise, Cisco’s designs meld the pure parts of rural practicality with a contemporary, city model. All of its merchandise embody a novel mixture of expertise, magnificence and accountability.