Have you ever wondered what your furnishings are made of in your home? Unfortunately, things like bedding, carpet, flooring, textiles, and furniture can be made with toxic materials that can lead to health problems and environmental damage. I learned that some of these materials are causing obesity, endocrine disruption, cancer, mental health issues, and more. And these toxins are harmful to the earth. This led me to want to understand more about sustainable furnishing alternatives and educate others, so I decided to become a Green Accredited Professional (AP) for my interior design business. In addition to the many wonderful partnerships I have attained over the span of my business, my goal is to offer these eco-friendly alternatives to clients that are seeking a green space.
The Green AP certification is granted through the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC). According to their site, sustainable furnishings are “eco-friendly” or environmentally safe, and are “made and distributed in ways that protect our planet. SFC members take immediate steps to minimize carbon emissions, waste stream pollutants, unrecyclable content, and primary materials from unsustainable sources from any product platform under their control.”
As part of my design work, I am incorporating suppliers that keep out toxins like PVC (vinyl), flame retardants, volatile organic compound (VOC) treatments (like formaldehyde and other solvents), fluorinated stain treatments, and antimicrobials, which, according to my extensive training, have all been linked to poor health and pollution. The way that some products are made, especially those that cannot be broken down and are sitting in landfills, causes poor air quality and leads to the ill effects of global warming.
In his book Clean, Green, and Lean, Dr. Walter Crinnion talks about how the oil shortage of the 1970s resulted in houses being built with less air exchange between the inside and the outside. This can lead to “sick building syndrome”—toxic furnishings are off-gassing and those toxins are staying in the home, and in your body. VOCs are lurking in carpet, caulking materials, adhesives, vinyl flooring, paints, stains, and particleboard. The EPA conducted a study in the early ’80s that proved our exposure to harmful VOCs is coming from inside air, not outside air like was previously thought. And not to mention other global problems that arise from poorly made products: illegal logging, deforestation, child labor, and heavy metals and plastics in the water supply.
So what can you do to mitigate these problems when furnishing your home or office? Here are some sustainable ideas and greener alternatives:
And, of course, I am here to help if you have any questions on “greening” your home. As a professional interior designer with a Green AP certification, I can offer options that make your remodel, new build, or refresh look beautiful and have a better impact on the environment. Contact me for a consultation.