Many are already aware of the importance of your home being a safe haven free from potential dangers associated with common cleaning products and other substances. But did you know that there could be hidden dangers present in your furniture and flooring?
A surprising number of common household materials and furnishings can produce VOCs, contain phthalates or be coated in PBDEs. You could even be exposed to chemicals like formaldehyde, chlorine and ammonia just by spending time lounging in your favorite chair. The risk is even more alarming if you have children.
Thankfully you can make your home more environmentally friendly and safer by updating your current furnishings and flooring to greener options.
Select Sustainable Real Wood Furniture
Mass produced furniture may be inexpensive and a tempting purchase, but consider what chemicals and additives are present in this furniture. Wood furniture is beautiful but try and purchase only real, solid wood furniture whenever possible. Not only will it last for decades, but will also be free of adhesives and other substances present in particleboard furniture. Real wood furniture also can be safely disposed of when it can no longer be used compared to non-biodegradable products like plastics or plastic/wood composites.
An excellent source of sustainable, safe real wood furniture is Amish furniture stores or independent woodworkers. An Amish living room furniture set is an investment that will pay off in terms of beauty and longevity. Be sure to properly care for your wood furniture and only use green stains, sealants and wood-safe cleaning products to maintain.
Give Walls a Facelift without Paint
An easy way of giving a room a new look is to repaint the walls, but as you’re probably aware the typical paint is laden with ingredients that are far from non-toxic. Add to the fact that paint may still off-gas VOCs well after drying, you may want to think twice. While there are safe paint brands available, another option you may want to consider are reclaimed wood wall panels.
Reclaimed wood paneling gives your walls a major change in look – not just changing up the color, but adding depth and warmth you really can’t achieve with paint. Opting for reclaimed wood means you are using a recycled product rather than a new material, thereby reducing a negative environmental impact. These reclaimed wood panels can easily be added to existing walls as long as they are structurally sound. This means you won’t need to tear anything down or otherwise send old building materials to the landfill.
Install a High-Performance Flooring
The flooring in your home covers a significant portion of your living space and is often in contact with bare feet. Families with children also are probably well-aware of how much time younger kids spend directly on the floor. While you can limit chemical exposure by reducing the use of chemical cleaners, if you really want to make a significant impact you can replace your floors with a higher performing material.
Carpets can easily off-gas VOCs and the issue of a lack of biodegradability is also a concern, as there is roughly 2.5 million tons of carpet and materials associated with carpet installation sitting in landfills. A better solution is engineered wood flooring. This wood flooring gives you all the beauty of wood, but with incredible durability and lowered maintenance. Engineered wood floors are often used in LEED buildings and are held to a very high standard in terms of environmental effect compared to typical residential wood flooring.
Remember, a green home isn’t just one where you limit the use of chemicals, but also one outfitted with furnishings chosen with the environment and human safety in mind.