Eco-Friendly Furniture {Guide}

Living in a Chapel Hill, we have several clients that are often interested in sustainable, eco-friendly products.  Finding truly eco-friendly products especially while searching for higher end furniture can send you down a never ending rabbit hole.  There is a ton of talk about being environmentally friendly, but how much is just that, talk?  We found that we can sort eco-friendly furniture by first reviewing the following 5 criteria.

 Sustainable Wood

Does the company use Forest Stewardship Council®wood? FSC® is a great non-profit group which certifies wood sources that are implementing best practices for sustainable wood harvesting.  Some of the more sustainable wood sources are White Ash, Black Cherry, Mango, Mahogany, Maple, and White Oak.  Some bamboo is sustainable, but depending on where it is grown bamboo can be harvested in a way to aiding in deforestation and can have elevated uses of pesticides and fertilizer.  If you want eco-friendly bamboo make sure to see if that product is FSC®  or Rainforest Alliance certified.

Eco-Friendly Cushion Materials

The first thing you think of when you think of a cushion is likely foam.  Foam in general is not an environmentally friendly product. However, several companies out there are using more eco-friendly sources for cushions.  Recycled foam, soy-based oils, and flame retardant free cushions are the best choices when trying to reduce the amount of petroleum products and hazardous materials brought inside you home. Lee Industries and their naturalLee product line is a leader in the eco-friendly field.

Natural Fabrics

Staying away from synthetic fabrics is going to be your best choice while selecting earth friendly furniture.  Cotton, linen, mohair, wool, silk, and other organic natural fibers have the least environmental impact.  There are other fabrics out available that utilized recycled materials, but they are typical still petroleum based and may be better suited for outdoor or patio furniture.

Finishes

Choosing a finish on furniture can allow you to have a lot of say in the level of  VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds).  There are several manufacturers which focus on reducing the VOC’s in the wood finishes as well as bonding materials.  Selecting a finish with the lowest possible VOC content while still maintaining a great look can be hard to achieve, but that is why you want to hire a professional after all, right?

 

Locally Sourced

In North Carolina, we are lucky to have so many great manufactures within a short drive of our projects.  If you are trying to reduce you carbon footprint on the items you are purchasing selecting locally crafted and sourced furniture is the way to go.  Also, if you research the products supply chain you can find out that many of these local manufacturers also use locally source materials.  A good rule of thumb is the more local the product the lower the carbon footprint.

There isn’t a perfect eco-friendly company out there.  Everyone has to make some sacrifice while selecting an environmentally friendly product, but the more educated you become then the better the choice you can make for you and your family.  As always, if you would like some help finding some eco-friendly furniture for your home please reach out to hello@catfrenchdesign.com and we can assist you.

Image Sources: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Catherine French Design is a team of interior design consultants based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have provided residential and commercial services in North Carolina and along the Eastern Seaboard.