tips on furnishing your home in a less toxic way

The following is a guest post from Caroline Smith, who has written for a number of blogs. Caroline tries to furnish her own home in a green and natural way, and runs a site that features a selection of eco-friendly bar stools.

For years, people have decorated their homes without knowing the consequences of using toxic materials. Since researchers have discovered that some danger exists in many common household products, furniture and fabrics, and even many of the groceries that are brought into the home, consumers are becoming more conscious of their purchases. By searching for the greenest options available, homeowners can limit their family’s exposure to toxic elements. While finding eco-friendly products is not an easy task, the following questions can help with the decision making process:

• Is the item to be purchased made from recyclable materials?

• What policies does the manufacturer have in place to promote environmental accountability?

• Are the stains and paints used on the product low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

• Do the fabrics have non-toxic finishes?

• Are the materials used gathered from a sustainable-source?

At first glance, it might seem impossible for one product to fit all of these qualifications, but this is not true. As consumers become more aware of living a less toxic lifestyle, greener, healthier products are becoming more widely available. For instance, bar stools are now available that have been made from recycled aluminum soft drink cans. These bar stools, manufactured by Emeco, are guaranteed to last a lifetime and boast that they may last as long as one hundred and fifty years. By purchasing products like this, consumers can prevent tons of debris from overloading the landfills. These eco-friendly bar stools are a great recycling project, but for people who still prefer wood furniture, there are other great options.

When buying wooden items, consumers should first check to see if any fabrics, stains and finishes have a low emission of gases. Then, they should determine if the wood comes from an environmentally managed forest. This is easily done by looking for a sticker containing the logo of the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC.

To prevent VOCs from entering the home and reducing the air quality when new furniture is brought into the house, consider these tips:

• Purchase furnishings that are made from organic wool, cotton, or hemp.

• Make sure the padding is natural rubber foam or recycled polyfill

• Only buy furniture with finishes that are guaranteed to be formaldehyde free.

• Ascertain that water-based glue has been used to secure joints.

People exposed to indoor air contamination may not experience immediate health issues, but the toxic gasses emitted by new furniture can have long-term effects for the whole family. These can range from lung damage to a weakened immune system. Some studies have even found a negative effect on the reproductive system and brain cells. This is the reason that everyone remodeling or redecorating a home should be concerned with choosing the least toxic materials available.

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