by Kathy Summers
On of the greenest choices in furniture is recycling furniture from somewhere else — your grandmother or that cute little antique store downtown. That way you’ll help reduce the environmental load in landfills and your bank account.
Be careful, though, because family heirlooms, such as antique rocking chairs or cribs, won’t meet current safety standards if they were finished with lead-based paint. Furniture designed especially for babies after the 1970s shouldn’t pose a toxic hazard even if a child chews on it.
But newly installed unfinished plywood or particleboard can produce formaldehyde vapors, so cover the exposed wood with a low- or non-VOC finish or sealer such as AFM Naturals Oil Wax Finish or Safecoat DuroStain.
If you’re in the market for new furniture, eco-friendly options include furniture made from environmentally safe recycled stainless steel, bamboo, hemp, cork, reclaimed wood, and all natural teak wood grown and harvested through environmentally friendly methods, to name a few.
Look for pieces that use non-toxic glues and water-based paints and furniture stains. The fewer chemicals used, the more eco-friendly.
For wood furniture, choose pieces that are renewable or reclaimed. Many manufacturers plant new trees to replace the trees that are cut down to make furniture. Look for pieces that have FTC certification (Forest Stewardship Council).
For upholstered pieces, avoid petroleum based foams in seat cushions. Environmentally safer alternatives include organic cottons, hemp, jute, wool, and even upholstery woven from recycled plastic bottles.
Don’t worry, you’ll find plenty of attractive, fun, and affordable pieces made from pregnant- mom and baby safe and Mother Earch friendly materials.