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Furniture: What to Look For, What to Avoid

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.

Read more: Crafts & Design, Green Home Decor

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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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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Your Naturally Healthy Home

Whether you’re building a new house or upgrading the one you’ve already got, Your Naturally Healthy Home will help you create a home that is comfrtable to live in as well as kind to your health and to the planet. With more than 200 lush color photographs for inspiration, you’ll find all this to be an essential handbook for the environmentally conscious now


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2:09AM PDT on Mar 11, 2014

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

12:28AM PDT on Jun 13, 2013

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

3:56AM PDT on Apr 20, 2013


8:00AM PDT on Mar 13, 2013

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

6:15PM PST on Mar 3, 2013

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.

12:33PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Thanks for sharing

3:02AM PST on Feb 5, 2013

Useful tips:) Thank you, Annie!

4:51AM PST on Feb 4, 2013

Thanks you Annie for sharing the great tips and suggestions.

4:40AM PST on Feb 4, 2013

Thank you for the share!

7:39AM PDT on Apr 15, 2012

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

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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