Before modern times, furniture was actually organic because it was only created with natural fibers, solid hardwoods and nontoxic paints and stains. Since then, things have changed. With so many engineered materials and synthetic fabrics available today, it can be difficult to find furniture that is truly organic. It is virtually impossible to find a sofa that uses only 100% organic materials. However, there are some things that you can do to increase your chances of finding a sofa that utilizes mostly organic materials, or atleast ones that are much better for you and your home.
If you are planning to go organic when it comes to buying a sofa, take a look at the filling and fabric. Filling and fabric are likely to be labeled as organic. For wood furniture, you can find more natural options by opting for solid wood eco-friendly sofas made from wood that has been harvested in a sustainable manner.
Organic upholstery uses 100% cotton, linen, hemp or other natural fabrics that have not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Natural jute is perfect for use as upholstery and cotton and muslin may be used as a layer to prevent wool fibers from going through a fabric cover on eco-friendly sofas.
For those that are sensitive to dust and other allergens, purchasing a sofa that features natural fabric for the upholstery can provide some much needed relief. Organic fabrics are made without all of the harmful chemicals that can cause health problems for sensitive individuals.
Natural latex that is created without the use of harmful chemical and petroleum products is the best option for filling for your sofa because it can be used in place of other materials for the foam and padding. Although minimal chemicals are used during the manufacturing process, the natural latex undergoes heating and washing to remove traces of chemicals. In addition, natural latex is also biodegradable.
Another benefit is that a sofa made with an eco filling does not contain fire retardants. In traditional furniture, these chemicals were added with the purpose of making furniture flame resistant. However, the outcome was that toxic chemicals were instead being released into the air, water supply and environment. In addition, something as simple as sitting or jumping on the couch can cause a large amount of flame retardants to be released. Therefore, natural filling offers a safe alternative that will not have an adverse impact on your health and are just plain good for the environment. Latex isn't 100% organic, but it's the best option in the market.
For the wool lining, there is an organic version available. It's typically more expensive but its nice to confirm where the wool comes from and how it's treated.
If you want to purchase an organic sofa, the filling is one of the most important things to pay attention to because of the VOCs and offgassing. Offgassing occurs when the VOCs in the filling are released from the furniture and attach themselves to dust particles in the air. When you breathe you can inhale these chemicals, causing damage to your health. Since the VOCs are bio-accumulative, the dangerous effects can manifest over time, resulting in serious illnesses.
Offgassing is a process that occurs naturally over time. Essentially, you do not want toxic filling in your furniture if you want to stay healthy. You need filling that is as eco-friendly as possible. Even options like Certi-Pur certified polyurethane foam are much better than standard polyurethane foam options. They have restrictions on the harsh chemicals to ensure a healthier option.
Additional Tips for Eco-Friendly Sofas
1. Sustainable Wood. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) publishes guidelines on sustainable forestry and this certification is available to furniture manufacturers that produce furniture in accordance with the FSC's guidelines. If you want wood furniture that is made in a sustainable manner, opt for furniture that is made from FSC-certified wood.
2. Natural Paints and Finishes. If you want to avoid toxic chemicals, avoid products that contain VOCs. VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, are dangerous chemicals that are often found in furniture paints, glues and finishes. If you opt for solid wood furniture, you can avoid buying furniture that contains VOCs by selecting furniture with natural finishes, such as linseed oil.