If you're in the market for new furniture, first ask yourself if anything in your home can be repurposed or if you might find what you're looking for at a local flea market, thrift store or antique shop. You'll save on fuel costs for shipping and help your community. If those options won't work, here are some tips for buying as green as you can:
1. Hunt for Furniture Online. Free, local classified ads for everything from sofas to dining tables, both new and old, are available online at websites such as Craigslist.org.
2. Choose Renewable Resources. Eco-friendly furniture materials to look for include:
- Reclaimed lumber and recycled wood scraps
- Recycled products from plastics and paper
- Sustainable fibers such as hemp, wool and jute
- Bent plywood and molded ply
- Corrugated cardboard
- Stainless steel
- Kirei Board (made from reclaimed sorghum-stalk fibers)
- Coconut palm trees
3. Use Earth-Friendly Finishes. Skip the toxins that accompany that new-paint smell. The smell comes from volatile organic compounds emitted not just by paints and lacquers but also by paint strippers, cleaning supplies, building materials and furnishings, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, look for nontoxic paints and stains made with such natural materials as seed oils, citrus-peel extracts, milk protein, lime and clay.
(Jenny Jedeikin was a contributor to this story.)