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.

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Adrian A.
Adrian A.1 years ago

Awesome article. I saw great furnitures sets on Designs on Demand. Check this

Thomas Sir
Thomas Sir2 years ago

Amazing information in this blog here that is truly glancing over the every aspects of topic.
for more information

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago


katarzyna phillips

sometimes it's not possible to find out what the items are fully made of, what chemicals are involved, where they've been made, what source it's from etc. try going into somewhere like next, dunhelm mill, scs, dreams, etc and asking the staff 'so where was this item made from and what materials and polishes have been used?' they'd look at you funny and give you head office's number which would be a wild goose chase, or they'd tell you to leave the store! as for getting items specifically made, most people don't have the luxury of a five figure bank account. mebbe it's really easy in america, but here in the uk it's not

Merelen Knitter
Merelen Knitter2 years ago

I have a random collection of furniture, some new and mostly second hand. The best thing about second hand hardwood furniture is how well it does with moisture and heat compared to new, particle board. My oldest furniture is the stuff that's going to be around the longest. It's unfortunate things just aren't made to last any more.

Sonia Minwer-Barakat Requ

Thanks for sharing

Ana R2 years ago

Useful tips:) Thank you, Annie!

John B.
John B.2 years ago

Thanks you Annie for sharing the great tips and suggestions.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

Thank you for the share!

Adena Zastrow
Adena Z.3 years ago

I design and then have my friend build my furniture and we also find useful ways of recycling old trees into new projects. ;-)