Fortunately, there are-both online and in the real world! Of course, which ones you buy from will depend on what you consider affordable and which green attributes are most important to you.
Depending on the materials used to make a piece of furniture, its green features could include any of the following:
- Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, sustainably harvested wood;
- nontoxic glues (or no glues);
- nontoxic stains and finishes;
- organic cotton or other natural fibers;
- untreated upholstery or nontoxic fabric treatments for fire resistance, waterproofing, and stainproofing; and
- local manufacture using local materials.
While it's rare to find products that meet all these criteria, the number of furniture manufacturers and individual products with green attributes is growing, providing more options in all price ranges.
Before I launch into those options, though, I should mention that the greenest (and often the most affordable) furniture you can buy is "pre-owned." Yard sales, antique shops, consignment stores, and Craigslist are a few good places to find used furniture.
That said, if you're in the market for new furniture and if you don't mind going to one of the big chain stores, that's where you're most likely to find affordable options. Several mass-market retailers, including IKEA, Target, and Crate & Barrel, now carry some (relatively) green furniture.
- IKEA has a variety of corporate environmental initiatives, including policies for procuring wood from sustainably managed and legally logged forests. IKEA's pressed-wood products comply with the low formaldehyde thresholds established in Europe. There's at least one IKEA store in the Philadelphia area.
- Crate & Barrel's Lockport sofas and chairs have FSC-certified hardwood frames, use a soy-based poly-foam for the seat cushions and recycled post-consumer fibers for the back cushions, have slipcovers, and use water-based stains and fabric treatment. The company also sells a Bento line of solid bamboo joinery furniture.
- Target's "eco-friendly" furniture lines are called Linear and Intown. They have a minimalist, modern look and are made with FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certified SmartWood, formaldehyde-free plywood, and water-based stains and finishes.
If you buy furniture locally, you'll avoid shipping costs. And if the furniture is locally made, that's even better: Not only does it help support your local economy, but minimizing the transportation distance greatly reduces a product's embodied energy.
In the Philadelphia area there are at least two green home stores that sell furniture-the Environmental Home Store and Greenable. If you're in the market for a mattress or bed frame, try the Organic Mattress Store in Hellertown, Pennsylvania.
Websites specializing in green furniture include Furnature and Vivavi. Furnature sells sofas, chairs, bed frames, and mattresses; their offerings have a fairly simple, traditional style, and the company's focus is on selling products that are free of harmful chemicals. Vivavi offers a wide range of higher-end furniture and furnishings with a modern, urban flair. Furnature has a showroom in the Boston area, and Vivavi's showroom is in Brooklyn.
For more information:
Check GreenHomeGuide'sgreen furniture Q&Ato see what questions other homeowners are asking.