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How will you know 'natural furniture'?

One of the healthiest things you can do for your family – aside from lessening the use of your car and replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents – is to upgrade to natural furniture. 

Natural furniture is usually heavier than man-made furniture.  Also, it naturally blends in nature surroundings (if you plan to place it on your patio or deck).  It usually lasts longer too, and the maintenance and cleaning is very easy to do.  

Your traditional man-made furniture was made with woods found from the tropics.  It means that the tables and chairs in your home may have played a negative role in loss of wildlife habitat, rainforest deforestation, and even global warming (cutting the trees in the forest releases carbon dioxide).  Also, traditional furniture is often full of chemicals that may release unhealthy fumes in your room. 

On the other hand, natural furniture is made using recycled materials such as timber and stainless steel.  Aside from this, bamboo can also be harvested from sustainable sources and abundant in nature.  By using these raw materials, some furniture manufacturers and designers breathe new life into old wood as well as spare the living trees in the forest. 

Another issue is the use of synthetic chemicals in the manufacture of traditional furniture.  These chemicals cause pollution and disease.  For example, one leading ingredient used in particle board and pressed wood is formaldehyde – a known carcinogen that is found in the resins and glues that bind upholstery, padding, and furniture frames.  Another chemical is synthetic flame-retardant, which is commonly added to materials used as foam fillers, and has been linked to disorders of the reproductive tract and human nervous system. 

In natural furniture, the manufacturers use nontoxic material alternatives such as water-based glues.  These do not contain synthetic materials or formaldehyde.  Also, a handful of natural materials such as wood batting can work well with flame-retardants while still providing ample padding.  In addition, procedures used in joinery such as the tongue-and-groove technique has eliminated the need for adhesive use altogether. 

If you want to make sure that the furniture you are buying is indeed “natural”, you can check for the certification of FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to ensure that the wood meets the standard for the manufacture of the furniture.  The FSC was founded in 1992 and since then establishes the standards for sustainable forestry worldwide.  It certifies furniture makers with timber operations that are following its guidelines.   

Right now, there are a growing number of furniture makers that are starting to manufacture and promote natural furniture.

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