Health and Safety

Healthier Interior Design Sources

In the last post, how the toxins that threaten our health by way of our environments were discussed.  Now it’s time to see some options that exist to create better, cleaner surroundings for our clients and ourselves.

By the recession of 2008, a stark challenge was presented to fabric and furniture manufacturers in the United States.  We had lost our manufacturing businesses, our jobs, damaged our resources and had not respected our forests, water – ourselves.  A challenge came from the voice of one man in 2006 in High Point, NC, Gerry Conklin of South Cone Home.  Could Americans make quality furnishings at one-third their present costs and make them environmentally safe and sustainably designed?  A daunting task indeed!   Thus was founded the Sustainability Furnishings Council with a 70 member body.  The Council has gone on to grow and set standards for furniture and fabric companies across the country to a membership of 400 today.

What are some of the new standards that were established?  They asked the various members to source their raw materials with a new mind set and change their supply chains.   Chemical contents were of utmost concern.  The goal was to get rid of formaldehyde, flame retardants, PVC’s, antimicrobials, petroleum-based dyes, and foams.  Fluorinated stain repellents and high volatile organic compounds used in glues, binders and finishing coatings were also on the list.  In most instances, the manufacturers needed help in being educated about sustainability and health concerns, but they also would need help with changing out to more efficient machinery and power usage.  The Council was there to help them change and redefine their processes.  For an eye-opening video check out South Cone’s introduction to their company here.

Thankfully, we do have choices today when it comes to quality and healthy home furnishings.  Look over the profiles and links to websites of members of the Sustainability Furnishings Council here.  As an example, Lee Industries goes above and beyond in this pursuit. They have aligned themselves with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forestry Stewardship Council which seek better practices in forestry and preservation of wildlife, water, and ecological concerns.  They are committed to using a soy-based oil to replace the petroleum-based foam cushioning.  They are determined to recycle as close to 100% of the excess raw materials as possible and eliminate the use of paperwork internally by electronic means. Lee also has given back by donating over 140,000 trees to the American Forest Foundation.

Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams have dedicated their careers to creating an eco-friendly sustainable business based on respect for their employees, their product, their customers and the future of our country.  They use recycled products where applicable, natural fabrics without flame retardants, and machinery designed for efficiency and innovation.  As original partners of the Sustainability Furnishings Council, they have held up the Council’s standards as their own.  Hear Mitchell Gold and Bob Mitchell discuss their ethos here.

CertiPur Foam creates a polyurethane foam product without the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons.  Their foam contains no heavy metals, flame retardants, formaldehyde, or phthalates.  Their VOC’s are at the low level of fewer than 0.5 parts per million.  A list of manufacturers who use their foam can be seen here. 

The next blog installment on non-toxic sources of products will feature fabric sources that can add to your files for sourcing healthy home decor alternatives.

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