Have a Seat, Stay a While: No Good to Good Wood by Guest Blogger, August 24 2008, 0 Comments

Copyright: project1photography / 123RF Stock Photo

One of the best things in the world is coming home from a long hard day, curling up on the sofa, putting your feet up on the good ole reliable coffee table and having a glass of wine or cup of tea with an old friend, a new friend, a child, spouse or just by your own self.

Ahhhhhhhh, what a nice break. But what if you found that in this moment in which your guard is downas it should be in your home safe home—you were breathing in off gassing fumes from formaldehyde-filled furniture? What if you discovered that this, your favorite chair, table or sculpture even, was an active culprit in the pollution of your haven?

Particleboard and other wood products, used mainly for indoor cabinets and furniture, are made from wood chips and other plant fibers and glued together using formaldehyde-based resins. And in case your high school biology class eludes you, formaldehyde is a strong irritant that affects the eyes, nose and throat and may cause headaches and fatigue. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency classifies it as a possible human carcinogen which can off gas for years. Particleboard and fiberboard are major sources of formaldehyde pollution in the home found from the breakdown of the adhesive urea formaldehyde. And not to get you too wound up, but a report from Environment California found that of 21 baby nursery products tested from big name stores like Babies "R" Us, Target and Walmart, about 6 emitted enough toxic formaldehyde to trigger allergy and asthma attacks in children.

But what if you then learned that the majority of the wood furniture used in your home came from the rapidly declining rainforests? That high value species are of particular interest to illegal loggers—as a result, the Earth’s rainforests are being destroyed at the rate of 1.5 acres per second worldwide. How would you feel then?

While I rarely prescribe this elixir, I believe retail therapy may be in order. Here are some things to consider when creating a healthy, hanging out haven, inside or out.

  • Look for wood that’s certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international non-profit that encourages sustainable forestry. Companies such as Environmental Wood Furniture use this type as well as additional healthy and eco friendly criteria. Another great option that puts you and the environment as a top priority is Healthy Wood Home Furnishings.
  • Look for wood that’s “recycled” or “reclaimed”—which means that it’s been recovered from destruction projects, demolition landfills and the like. Explore Trestlewood for reclaimed options and La Fuente Imports for recycled options. And since formaldehyde wasn’t synthesized until 1859 and basically what’s done is done, this may be a great time to invest in some pre-1859 antiques and commit the ultimate act of recycling—you know, for Earth’s sake.

There are also safe outdoor options so that you don’t have to use products doused in chemicals and various toxins. Check out these cedar pieces and note how to take great care of them so they can last you for years to come!

Guest Blogger: Julie Reitz