Support Our World – Live Eco-Friendly With Sustainable Furniture

Design J

Have you noticed that as you read and learn about sustainable furnishings that you begin to swim in alphabet soup. FSC, VOC, IAQ are just a few acronyms that pertain to sustainable/eco-friendly furnishings. Here are the most important things to consider regarding sustainable furnishings.


1. Use FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) wood. This wood is from a certified, well-managed forest adhering to strict guidelines to protect the life of the forest and the environment. It is a chemical-free environment. If you are looking for good casement furniture, i.e. nightstands, coffee tables, dressers or chair/sofa construction, this is a standard you can bet on.  

2. Use FSC-certified veneers. These veneers are from certified forests and generally are made from recomposed woods. Cabinet manufacturers and furniture manufacturers like using veneers because the grain consistency is better.  

3. When purchasing sustainable furniture made with veneers, make sure that the core that it is adhered to is formaldehyde free. In California, all medium density fiberboard is required to be formaldehyde free. Formaldehyde is a bonding agent that has been preferred up until recently. Because we care about our interior air quality (IAQ), our voices have been heard and formaldehyde is no longer present. And guess what? The board still holds together just fine.

4. Glues and adhesives are another sticking point. This is another IAQ issue. Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are really bad for the environment. Make sure the manufacturer is using low/no VOC glues and adhesives in its manufacturing process.

5. For furniture to be considered sustainable and eco-friendly, only water-borne sealers and stains with no VOC should be used.

6. Cushioning for soft goods, such as sofas and upholstered chairs, is another consideration. Renewable, soy-based foam, wool felt, down and latex are viable options. Soy-based foam uses less petroleum and meets fire-code regulations; however, just using soy-based foam is not enough. Make sure that it is fiber wrapped (Ingeo is the world’s first manmade fiber derived from 100 percent annually renewed resources) and in a 100 percent organic-cotton down ticking.

Laura Birns, ASID, LEED, AP, ID+C
Laura Birns Design
122 15th St., Suite 812
Del Mar, CA 92014

Categories: Home Design