With so much emphasis on what we put in our bodies these days we sometimes forget that the
items surrounding us in our homes can be just as harmful.
Indoor air can be up to four times as polluted as outside air. Products such as MDF which
contains formaldehyde can emit irritating and unhealthy fumes for decades. MDF has some of the
highest concentration of urea-formaldehyde adhesives out of all the engineered wood products.
Unfortunately many affordable, mass-retail furniture companies use MDF.
Also, fire retardants are prevalent in a multitude of common household products and can be found
in everything from pillows to couches, children’s clothing, carpets, computers and baby toys.
More educated consumers and consumer advocacy groups has lead many manufacturers to
upgrade their standards and has opened the door for a new crop of companies vowing to deliver
organic chemical free mattresses, furniture, upholstery fabrics/filler, etc.
Usually organic or green means more expensive. While this used to be the case, more and more
large “fast furniture” companies (West Elm, Crate & Barrel, All Modern, etc) are offereing furniture
made of reclaimed wood, products made from wood that was farmed from and FSC forest. (FSC
is an international non-profit organization that promotes responsible management of the world’s
In a world where sustainability should come as standard, as an interior designer, I feel a certain
responsibility to inform our clients about these hazards and present greener/cleaner options.
At a baseline, we offer:
– Zero or Low VOC paints
– Upholstered furniture made without flame retardant chemicals
– Eco-friendly natural fabrics and finishes
Here are a few things you can do to make your home more eco-friendly:
– Buy hard solid wood FSC furniture
– Buy vintage or furniture made from recycled materials.
– Seal (with a non toxic sealer) or replace particleboard walls, floors or cabinets (which contain
– Avoid plywood, fiberglass, fiberboard and paneling
– Chose materials made from recycled glass, ….
– Chose rugs made of natural materials such as wool, cotton and jute
– Chose all natural fabrics such as wool and linen
– Chose zero or low VOC paints
Examples of Products:
• Broom by Philippe Starck:
Philippe Starck and Emeco came together to create a new chair that is reclaimed,
repurposed, recyclable – and designed to last. The chair is made from 75% waste polypropylene
and 15% reclaimed wood that would normally be swept into the trash, “Imagine”, says Philippe
Starck, “a guy who takes a humble broom and starts to clean the workshop and with this dust he
makes new magic”. That’s why we call it Broom chair.
• Benjamin Moore Aura (Low VOC) or Benjamin Moore Natura (Zero VOC)
• Pollack Green Fabrics:
These textiles not only meet strict performance standards, but are also composed of at
least 90% sustainable fibers in one of the following categories…Recycled, Rapidly
Renewable, Cradle to Cradle & LEED CI.
• West Elm FSC Certified Mid-Century Desk
– Olivia Erwin Rosenthal of Olivia Erwin Interiors