There are two things to consider when you choose fabrics for your furniture, floors and window treatments – how is the product grown or manufactured, and is the product a renewable resource? Here is what to look for:
- Hemp: Hemp has had a bad reputation for being a type of narcotic, but it is actually a highly renewable plant that is fast growing and pest tolerant. Thus, it is grown without chemical pesticide treatment, and is quickly renewable. It has become a fabric favorite for furniture, rugs, and window shades
- Bamboo: another fast-growing renewable plant. It is also hypo-allergenic and anti-bacterial. Bamboo is now a material for flooring, rugs, and, yes, fabrics.
- Linen: This fabric comes from flax, another fast-growing renewable plant. It does not require heavy pesticides so there is never any “gas-out” from the product in the home.
- Organic Wool: This means that the sheep have not been given chemical baths before the wool is sheared and sent for manufacture.
- Organic Cottons: Cottons that have not been treated with lots of pesticides and that are free from bleach and chemical dyes are now being used for furniture and drape fabrics.
- Recycled Polyesters: If you choose polyester fabrics, look for the “green” label that tells you they have been recycled.
Certain woods come from fast-growing plants and trees, and we should be using them rather than woods from rain forests or that are far slower in replacement, like mahogany.
- Bamboo: Fast-growing; minimal chemical treatment either in growing or manufacture
- Cork: Cork comes from the cork oak tree, an evergreen. The cork is actually from the bark of this tree, which is cut and peeled off. The cork oak is able to regenerate its outer bark, so the tree is not destroyed in the process. Cork oaks life up to 200 years, and its bark can be harvested about every 9 years during that time.
- Tile: Many tiles come from renewable resources because they are made from post-industrial waste and recycled materials. Look for the labels as you consider tile flooring products.
- Avoid: In general, avoid woods for flooring or for furniture that come from rain forests. These are not sustainable forests, and taking their wood impacts entire eco-systems.
As you shop for furniture, flooring and window treatments, look for “green” labels. Each industry – paint, furniture, flooring, etc. has its own. You will be putting products in your home that will be non-toxic in terms of gas emissions; you will be purchasing materials that come from sustainable resources; and you will be doing your part in helping to preserve our environment.