Furniture: What to Look For, What to Avoid
You can find a wide range of styles of furniture on the market (and in flea markets and auctions), so avoiding furniture that causes environmental pollution during its production or that damages indoor air quality does not mean a limited choice or having to settle for “rustic” styles.
As with so much else today, you have the option of following older traditions that have little impact on the environment or choosing items made by new, clean production methods. Available furniture includes traditional handcrafted furniture, recycled furniture and that made with waste materials, new materials, aluminum and metal furniture, air-filled furniture, mass-produced panel furniture, and fireproofed furniture.
Furniture to Look For
• Well-made, long-lasting furniture from local materials that can be repaired if necessary.
• Furniture made with naturally occurring materials that biodegrade safely.
• Furniture made from certified woods.
• Furniture made with wood or metal (aluminum) frames, which is fairly easy to repair.
• Materials that are solid rather than veneered, finished with traditional oils and waxes that can be renewed at home and improve with age and use.
• Used furniture or furniture made from recycled materials.
• Organic fabrics and natural padding and fillings.
• Soft furnishings that can be removed for washing.
Furniture to Avoid
• Laminated finishes that are supersmooth; these will become damaged and look worse over time.
• Particleboard made with urea or formaldehyde glues.
• Furniture made from tropical hardwoods.
• Finishes that are high in VOCs and other chemicals.
• Furniture made from PVC, nylon, and other petroleum-based plastics.
• Foam- and plastic-filled furniture.
• Upholstered furniture.
• Fireproofing that contains bromines, halogens, or formaldehyde.
• Stain-resistance treatments containing fluorocarbons, PFOs, or formaldehyde.
Adapted from Your Naturally Healthy Home,> by Alan Berman. Copyright (c) 2001 by Frances Lincoln Limited. Reprinted with permission of Rodale Press.
Adapted from Your Naturally Healthy Home, by Alan Berman.