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Ask Casa: How Can I Go Green With My Furniture?

Dear Casa,

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?


Dear Karlg,

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.

To see the rest of my response, just


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!


Join The Conversation
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
great advice Casa! i second the high-quality pieces with original finishes (antiques or just older pieces), especially! Also - freecycle, as mentioned above is so great! Its nice knowing that someone else has my no-longer needed furniture.
hihowareya hihowareya 9 years
Err, sorry about the formatting in my above comment...I wish I could edit my comments (if there is a way, I would like to know!). Anyway, free and saving the environment are two good things in my book :-P
plasticapple plasticapple 9 years
I think the easiest way is just to buy second hand furniture. You can usually find nice new-er things on Craigslist and in the classifieds.
HWJ HWJ 9 years
I'd put antiques with original finishes at number one, since there is no tree harvesting, and the finishes are all natural. Number two solid wood vintage - again, no trees harvested. From my understanding, FSC still cuts down the rain forest, but the difference is it's managed, and they are replanting - attempting to duplicate the random the varieties found in the rain forest. Theye're still cutting down trees though. I'd put Antiques over FSC as being more green. :) I'd boycott China since many of the chemicals found in there wood products are banned in other countries except the U.S.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Great question...
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