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Green Seating: Sofas, Chairs, and Cushions

Green design has always made sense for the health of you, your loved ones, and the planet. Now it makes good financial sense too. A recent study has shown that a green-certified home can increase the resale price of your home. 

If you want to start making your home eco-friendly, it’s essential to make as many sustainable design choices as you can. In this blog, I share what criteria you should consider when buying green furniture and list eco-friendly options for sofas and chairs (frame and upholstery), upholstery textiles, cushions, and cushion covers.

Sofas and Chairs (Frame and Upholstery)

Most synthetic materials release invisible substances into the air — this is called off-gassing. If your furniture is made with synthetic materials, it can off-gas toxic chemicals or what are known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chemicals have been known to cause birth defects, endocrine disruption, and cancer. In addition to the material, most glues and adhesives used for upholstering contain VOCs including formaldehyde which is a carcinogenic substance. So how do you choose sustainable seating that won’t off-gas toxins into your home?

Buy sofas and chairs made with certified sustainable wood. Wood can be sustainably harvested on tree farms. Another great source is reclaimed wood. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification to verify that the wood is from a sustainable source. You could even opt for sofas and chairs made with recycled metal and plastic that have passed their peak of off-gassing. In addition, make sure to buy furniture with Greenguard certification and a zero VOC finish so you know it has low toxicity. 

Beyond the frame, check if the material used to upholster the sofa or chair is eco-friendly. Common industry practice is to use polyurethane foam or, sometimes, latex foam. The former is a highly toxic substance but organic latex foam can be 100% natural. Organic cotton is also an eco-friendly choice. Brands like Natural Upholstery are even using traditional re-upholstery techniques and employing the use of coconut fiber, Spanish moss, and horsehair. 

Here are some of my favorite green sofas and chairs:

Eames Lounge Chair in Santos Palisander

Eames Lounge Chair
Herman Miller

This iconic chair was given a sustainable update when the management of Herman Miller decided to build the shell of the chair with Santos Palisander instead of Brazilian rosewood. Santos Palisander looks like Brazilian rosewood but it’s a sustainable alternative.

Organic Sofas by EcoBalanza

Organic Sofas By Ecobalanza

They make all their products with ethically sourced, natural and organic materials. Their sofas are made with FSC-certified hardwood and they use Egyptian hemp to weave the steel springs for the foundation together. The springs are then supported with a frame made with jute and finally, burlap is used to reinforce the back and sides of the sofa. All eco-friendly materials.

Medley’s Rio Chaise Sectional

Rio Chaise Sectional

Their pieces are hand-made in the USA using sustainable practices. All Medley products are built with FSC-certified kiln-dried domestic solid Alder hardwood. Other green qualities include a zero VOC finish and certified organic natural latex.

Upholstery Textiles

Most textiles contain highly-fluorinated chemicals, often known as PFCs, because they are water and stain-repellent. PFCs are toxic chemicals that cause adverse health problems. 

The most reliable certification for a green product is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), so look for this certification when shopping for green upholstery fabrics. The Greenguard certification for no VOCs applies to textiles as well.

Happily, there is an array of organic, eco-friendly textile materials you can choose from. Listed below are my recommendations:

Abacus Collection by Knoll

Sofa Collection Abacus 1
Abacus Collections

The Abacus collection has been woven from 100% recycled polyester that is sourced from post-consumer waste like soda bottles and industrial scrap. I love the patterns and colors on these textiles.

Hemp Fabrics by Bulk Hemp Warehouse

Hemp Fabrics
Bulk Hemp Warehouse

Hemp is an environmentally sound material as it is a fast-growing crop and it can produce 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax. In addition, hemp is a great crop agriculturally as it leaves the soil in great condition for succeeding crops.

Cushions and Cushion Covers

Accessorize your green sofas and chairs with eco-friendly cushions. The same green principles that apply to sofas and chairs, apply to their accessories too. When choosing green cushions or cushion covers, choose products made with 100% natural latex, organic fibers, and natural fabrics. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Organic Throw Pillows and Covers by Coyuchi

Organic Throw Pillows And Covers

I love the earthy tones and natural textures on these throw pillows. They’re made with Peruvian alpaca, hand-crocheted cotton, and all their products are made using sustainable manufacturing practices.

Ackee Hemp Linen Covers by Robin Clare

Ackee Hemp Linen Covers
Robin Clare

Hemp linen covers inspired by Jamaica’s botanicals. What’s not to love? Artist Robin Clare digitally prints quirky motifs on durable, eco-friendly, 100% unbleached hemp linen. 

A green home will keep your family healthy, enabling you to breathe cleaner air every day, and it helps to preserve the environment. So try to decorate your home with eco-friendly materials. If you’re getting your home renovated and want a green design, work with an LEED Certified architect or designer or a designer that is knowledgeable on the topic, such as Randy Trainor.