I commend you for your desire to furnish your abode with eco-friendly furnishings.
Your best affordable option is probably used furniture from Craigslist, garage sales or consignment shops. If used furnishings happen to be made out of "old-style" particle board, chances are they have already offgassed the majority of the formaldehyde or other noxious chemicals.
- In your specific locale, try the Smart Homeowner website.
- If you can't find satisfaction there, realize that a variety of retailers -- such as Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Room and Board, West Elm (catalog only), and Ikea -- offer select pieces fabricated with FSC-certified woods, organic fabrics, etc.
- However, it is difficult to find detailed information on the total product. For example, the furniture piece may be made of FSC-certified woods, but it can be very challenging to determine if the upholstery is chemical-free.
To obtain a higher level of certainty, you can go to Greenguard Environmental, where you can find a variety of furnishings that have been certified to not adversely impact indoor air quality. Natural Home & Garden magazine is a great resource for finding articles and advertisers that specialize in sustainable furnishings. Green Industry Resources is a website that features about two dozen manufacturers of sustainable furniture; however, you will have to do some investigating with each company to determine if their products meet your sustainable criteria.
In the not-too-distant future, we can anticipate Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for furniture.
- EPDs document the full environmental lifecycle of a product -- cradle to grave.
- Chances are, EPDs will be developed first for the commercial/hospitality market before they are developed for the residential segment. Stay tuned.
For more information:
Here are some helpful archived GreenHomeGuide posts to help you with your furnishing decisions.
- "Help! What furniture should I get if I can't afford to buy green furniture for the whole house?" a Q&A answered by Randy Potter.
- "Can you recommend sources for green furniture?" a Q&A answered by Miriam Landman.
- "3 Tips for Buying Green Furniture," by Lydia Corser