Next time you're sitting comfortably on your living room couch watching TV or reading a magazine, you should realize that innocuous as it may seem, that couch is steadily releasing toxins. From chemically treated fabrics and wood bases to residual pesticides, bleaches and toxic glues, modern furniture can be a potential chemical trap.

"People want healthy alternatives, but they just haven't thought about it with furniture," says Lynn Marie Bower, author of The Healthy Household. She says that polyurethane-filled furniture cushions and padding, synthetic threads, polypropylene webbings and treated wood products all have the potential to "outgas" toxic chemicals, thus creating an unhealthy and unsafe environment.

So when it comes to decorating, it's not just a matter of style, color and design anymore. We need to be alert to what goes into furniture and how to find safe and functional alternatives.

What About Construction?

Barry Shapiro, co-founder of Furnature, a chemical-free furniture company in Boston, Massachusetts, says his company had to go back to the basics, "the way it was 50 years ago," to find natural and healthy furniture concepts.

Furnature's custom-made sofas, loveseats, chairs and ottomans use solid rock maple for frames, steel bases and cores for cushions and bases, and 100-percent organic cotton batting, canvas and filling. Since natural dyes don't work well with the large quantities of fabric necessary in furniture making, Furnature uses Foxfibre, a naturally-colored organic cotton fiber available in green, brown or natural.


Article originally published in E/The Environmental Magazine
By Anne Wilke