I've been trying to go "green" more in my daily life by doing things like taking public transit and using nontoxic cleaning products. But I'm not sure exactly what to do about furniture. What are the best ways to "green" my furniture purchases?
This is actually a complicated question, but I'll avoid the complications for now and get down to business, letting you know the easiest ways to go green with your furniture purchases.
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The most important piece of advice I can give you is to buy quality, long-lasting furniture that will last for years. Buying low-quality furniture that needs to be trashed and replaced is a big strain on the environment. I'm a big fan of antique and vintage furniture, and Craigslist is a good source for these items if you live in a bigger metropolitan area. Flea markets, estate sales, and eBay are also good bets.
Another good way to ensure that your furniture is green is to buy pieces that don't use MDF or particleboard. These composite woods often contain urea-formaldehyde or phenol-formaldehyde, which off-gasses into interior air and can affect indoor air quality and health, especially for people with environmental sensitivity and asthma.
Also look for furniture that uses FSC-certified wood—this means that the wood was grown and harvested in a sustainable manner or reclaimed wood, which means that the wood, which may have previously been used for flooring in a building, has been refinished and reused in a newer piece of furniture.
So, here are my big tips for greening your furniture:
- Buy high-quality furniture that will last for years.
- Avoid low-quality composite woods that may offgas.
- Buy antiques—they are usually of high quality and are beautiful and unique.
- Buy FSC-certified wood products.
- Look for furniture that uses reclaimed wood.
This short list is only the tip of the iceberg, though! Send me other questions on your green furniture questions and I'll answer them more specifically!