EKLA HOME at Reclaim Home
EKLA HOME at Reclaim Home

Time Magazine put forth its Green Design 100 which included categories such as Pioneers, companies, Home and Websites. In reading the list, I saw that it included mostly large and established companies when I know of so many other companies whose products and practices are much “greener”. All of the people and companies mentioned do deserve their props and my goal is not to take anything away from them. I would just like for Time to create a second list with all of the same categories and to give a nod toward some smaller, lesser known companies, products and people that are all this list and more. In addition, many of them have been doing it longer!

I always am asking what the word “green” means nowadays. It seems so ambiguous and subjective as applied to companies, people and products. It isn’t quantifiable or qualifiable. As I mentioned in a previous post about organic home furnishing fabrics, my concern is with healthful, non-toxic products that don’t outgas or create potential risks to people and the environment. I am thrilled that plastic is being recycled and kept out of landfills. But, it is still petroleum-based and off-gasses. (Let’s not even get into the problem with much of the plastic being loaded into shipping containers and sent to China for recyling before it is sent back into the States again.) Since I have a background in textile product development for home furnishings, I decided to address the HOME section of Time’s list, having given kudos the Ethan Allen, Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel. Yes, these large companies deserve credit for positive changes that they have made with the use of more responsible components of their furniture and still bringing a sofa to market that retails for under $2000.

I would like to share a matrix I created of companies that are producing eco upholstered furniture. I created a set of criteria from which to grade the companies based on their pieces’ components and their practicies as companies. Since I consider the pinnacle to be a completely natural and non-toxic product, my matrix criteria is skewed in favor of the companies that are working in this direction. You will see a positive correlation bteween purity and price. Green might be a bit more expensive than conventional, but organic is much more expensive. The reasons for the higher priced organic sofas are obvious- high material costs, less demand and lower production. I have not addressed the quality issue in this matrix either. To be truly green and sustainable, one might want to consider furniture as an investment, rather than a purchase that has an expected 4-10 year life span.

Okay, I have spent all day trying to figure out how to export and Excel spreadsheet  into this blog without distorting it and I have been unsuccessful. So,  I’ll try to do this in text format. I came up with a list of criteria for grading the greenness or purity of companies with eco upholtered furniture lines and I gave a point for every criterion met. These are the criteria.

Price range

FSC certified wood

No VOC stains

Water-based glues

 Natural latex cushion

Uses wool for FR compliance

Organic or renewable natural fabrics

Sells only non-toxic furniture

Owns its factory

Has product or factory eco certs

Member of  Sustainable Furniture Council

Contributes %-age of profits

Making non-toxic furniture for more than three years

SCORE

Comments

 

  Price range

SCORE

Comments

 
Pottery Barn $

1

soy-based foam cushion, recycled poly foam arms, recycled steel springs  
Crate & Barrel $

2

corn and soy based cushions/ wood from responsibly mananged forests. Made by Lee.  
Norwalk Furniture $

2

Preserve soy-based foam.)Only 10% soy. Recycled wire  
Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams $$$

2

domesticaly sourced wood, soy based foam, regenerated fibers  
Room & Board $

3

Can’t figue out what is eco about their pieces other than FSC-certified wood.  
Palacek $$

4

imports all. Thru trade  
CR Laine $

4

down2earth collection only. Soy-based foam. Sold only at Circle Furniture.  
Harden Furniture $$

5

Preserve soy-based foam.)Only 10% soy.  
Ikea $

5

poor carbon footprint, uses wood from responsibly managed forests. Eliminates many toxins.  
Rowe Furniture $

5

 Eco-Rowe Collection only. Soy-based foam.Recycled polys. PBDE-free.  
Lee Industries $$

6

20% soy-based Preserve foam. Recycled poly. Sofas start at $1800+  
Bean Products $$$$

6

Chicago. Small collection.Sofa $5200. Doesn’t use wool for FR??  
Viesso $$

6

LA. No organic cotton and no wool. Sofa=$2900  
Maria Yee $$

7

imported from China.Bamboo frames  
RC Green/Vivavi $$$$

7

LA. Sofa $5600. Sold only in Vivavi  
Q Collection $$$$$

7

NYC. Sells through showrooms. Won best of Green for juvenile collection.  
Pure by Ami McKay $$$$

7

no wool. Flame retardants? Sofa=$5200  
   

 

   
Furnature $$$$

8

Pioneer. Sofa $5200  
Zola $$$

9

Oregon. Sofa $4800  
Environmental Language $$$$$

9

Chicago  
Cisco Bros. $$$$

9

LA. Sells through showrooms. 82″ sofa $5000  
EKLA Home $$$

9

Sofa $3800. Will make custom pieces,too.  
Greener Lifestyles $$$$

9

Seattle based. 75″ sofa $4500  
A Natural Home  

 

no prices and cannot find retailers  
Further comments: Many of these companies are using soy-based foams, ranging from 5%-20%, but the balance is still petroleum and have chemical flame retardants. They did not earn                          points under “Non-toxic foam cushions”.  
 
I did not give points to companies using natural fiber fabrics unless the fabrics contained no pesticides and low impact dyes.  
Although some companies use certified eco ingredients, none posted certs on website and I gave no credit for component certification, only for certification of final product or factory.  
Carbon footprint is important, but not included because origin of components and finished products are not divulged on  most websites.  

PRICE: $=<$2000, $$=$2000-$3499, $$$=3500-$4999, $$$$=$5000-$6999, $$$$$=$7000+  for 84″ sofa

 

 

I just want to mention that this info is based on what I was able to obtain from the maker’s website or a retailer’s website. I was surprised to see with three companies using natural latex cushions no mention of wool as the flame retardant that allows the pieces to meet the federal requirements for residential upholstered furniture.  I don’t really know if they are just not meeting it or using chemical flame retardants to do so.

As you can see, there is  a positive correlation between level of purity and higher price ranges. If you are satisfied with soy-based foam that still has petroleum and chemical flame retardants added, then Lee Industries is an overall good value. They do use FSC-certified hardwoods and make  nice quality pieces at their price points.  If you want purity and investment quality then you are going to have to trade up to the companies that scored higher. Most of these companies also offer many more options and cusotmization since the pieces are made-to-order.

Please understand that I am not Consumer Reports . I am just an individual who cares about the purity of the  ingredients in the furniture and am hopefully sharing some helpful information about other “green” companies out there  about which Time might not know due to their sizes.

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