Living Well, Living Green: Home Sweet VOC Free Home
Want to keep chemicals out of your home? Start with your furniture. Carcinogenic formaldehyde is typically found in most mass-produced furniture foams, while glues and finishes usually contain volatile organic compounds. Better known as VOCs, these spend years off-gassing toxic vapors that are potentially carcinogenic and deplete the ozone.
According to Wikipedia:
"Although VOCs include both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds, it is the [man-made] VOCs that are regulated, especially for indoors where concentrations can be highest. VOCs are typically not acutely toxic but have chronic effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, analysis of VOCs and their effects is a demanding area."
Man-made VOCs can include:
- Refrigerants (chlorofluorocarbons)
- Dry cleaning fluid (tetrachloroethene)
- Gasoline/automobile exhaust
- Paints and coatings
It's the last two items on the list that can be a source of toxic VOCs in most manufactured sofas, tables, etc. found in your typical furniture store or outlet. So how can one avoid these carcinogenic substances?
Obviously, you're not going to dump your brand-new living room set; luckily, if you've had said furniture for a while or have a penchant for vintage, much of the VOC impact is lessened. But if you do plan to invest in brand-spanking-new furniture this year, there's no better place to get inspired than Environment Furniture. Crafted from truly eco-friendly materials--many of them recycled, like the old army tents that upholster the brand's signature couch--Environment Furniture makes a sustainable statement in every room.
Take this butcher table, crafted from sustainable reclaimed hard wood.
Or this one, which is wheeled for portability.
The ultimate in sustainable materials, recycled glass, acquires an urban aesthetic with this table.
And of course you can't go wrong with Environment's Edge Bed, designed as an integrated piece of furniture with an extra wide platform that eliminates the need for end tables or a bedside bench, plus four sliding drawers underneath.
In addition to decorating your home with eco-friendly furnishing, you can reduce your exposure to VOCs by:
- Choosing low VOC paint like Olympic Premium, Benjamin Moore Aura or The Freshaire Choice available exclusively at Home Depot.
- Replace your traditional bedding with organic cotton sheets and comforters, like those found at Gaiam or other green living retailers.
- Rip out the synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting and go natural with hardwood (finished with non-toxic stains and sealants), bamboo, cork or tile.
- Use natural cleaners such as Seventh Generation's line found in the Green and Natural section of drugstore.com.
- Seek out environmentally-friendly dry cleaners to reduce exposure to Perchloroethylene also known as "PERC." According to the EPA: "Recent studies indicate that people breathe low levels of this chemical both in homes where dry-cleaned goods are stored and as they wear dry-cleaned clothing."
- Quit smoking! According to the National Institute of Health, "Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including more than 60 carcinogens."
Find out more about VOCs and eco-friendly furniture and be entered to win a $4,000 Environment's Edge Bed when you sign up for the free EcoStiletto newsletter
Savings.com Green Guru Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a writer, producer
and marketing consultant who focuses on sustainable fashion, beauty,
lifestyle and parenting--and the creator of EcoStiletto.com, an online magazine which explains, in real-girl terms, how eco-friendly choices can help turn
your carbon footprint from a ginormous Ugg into an oh-so-slender Manolo.