Stylish & Eco Friendly Fabric

Going Green With Your Upholstery & Furniture

Are you thinking of the possibility of finding eco friendly fabric for your current furniture or new furniture purchase? Sinking into a comfy piece of upholstered furniture is the perfect way to end a tiring day, but picking out the perfect love-seat for your living room or lounger to use as your favorite reading chair can be a daunting task if you want to purchase pieces with the earth in mind.

Choosing furniture made with eco-friendly characteristics has traditionally been one of the more challenging green choices to make, but with this eco friendly upholstered furniture buying guide, you'll know what to look for in your next green chair or couch purchase.

Most upholstered furniture pieces these days are covered with one of three things: a natural fabric like cotton, synthetic fabrics or blends of cotton and polyester, or leather. Each of these fabric options comes with its own environmental problems.

Leather Is Not An Eco Friendly Fabric Or Upholstery For Your Furniture

Leather, though seemingly natural, is one of the worst choices you can make if you're looking for environmentally-friendly furniture.

But, do you know why?

Well, first, there are the problems with factory farms. Today's big business farms that raise animals for meat and leather generate huge quantities of air, water, and soil pollution.

Here's what a recent report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options put out by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) had to say about the issue:

"The livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."

Consider these statistics about the livestock industry:

  • The meat industry accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than the transportation sector in the US. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has recently concluded that raising animals for food produces more climate-warming gases than all the cars being driven in the entire world.
  • The combined land needed to raise livestock and grow crops to feed them is about 50 percent of the total land mass in the US. What's more, 80 percent of all the grain products produced in US go to feed the livestock, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Of all the water used by humans, 8 percent goes to irrigating feedcrops for animals. Additional water pollution occurs through the use of water to run Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), which are responsible for 37 percent of all pesticides and 50 percent of all antibiotics used in the US. These pesticides harm wildlife and human health.
  • An animal waste spill in North Carolina resulted in the dumping of 25 million gallons of excrement and urine into fresh water that killed over 10 million fish in the short term and 1 billion in the long term.

These are just some of the basic environmental problems associated with leather. What is more discouraging, turning an animal hide into finished leather is extremely toxic.

The effluent coming out of tanneries contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals, including iron, aluminum, zirconium, formaldehyde, and coal-tar derivatives. Some of the dyes are even cyanide-based and most leather is chrome-tanned (chromium is a hazardous material according to the US Environmental Protection Agency).

So as you can see, leather is not exactly the eco friendly fabric choice one might think it is.

Unfortunately, Conventional Cotton And Polyesters Are Not Eco Friendly Fabric Choices Either

Many upholstered furniture pieces are made with cotton as the fabric of choice. And again, while cotton may seem natural and therefore eco-friendly, it's actually not...

Taking up only 4 percent of the world's agriculture land, conventional cotton farming demands the use of 24 percent of the herbicides and fertilizers worldwide.

These agricultural chemicals contaminate both ground and surface water, poison beneficial organisims and insects, and cause health problems in humans as well.

Cotton is also incredibly demanding on the world's water supplies. It is estimated that to grow enough cotton to make one single T-shirt requires 400 gallons of water. With fresh water set to be the next "oil" because of its scarcity and potential to spark conflict, it is in our best interest to conserve it as much as possible, don't you think?

Obviously, polyester is not an eco friendly fabric as well. They are generally made from petroleum by-products, linking them to the rather dirty and energy-intensive petroleum industry. Making these synthetic fabrics requires a lot of energy and contributes a significant amount of pollution from production process.

Eco Friendly Fabric For The Earth Conscious Furniture Buyer

Today, the number of eco friendly fabric options on the furniture market is growing. Perhaps the most popular is hemp. Grown with little to no agricultural chemicals and much less water than cotton, hemp is an abundantly-growing plant that produces strong, versatile fibers. Organic hemp is preferable over non-organic, of course.

Likewise, organic cotton is a much better choice than conventional cotton if that's the material you'd like to use for your upholstered furniture. This crop won't come with the chemical footprint that conventional cotton does, but organic cotton still uses a tremendous amount of water.

You may also be able to find furniture made with wool. A renewable resource, this is a great environmentally-friendly fabric choice if you choose wool shorn from sheep that have not been treated with pesticides or subjected to animal cruelty. Wool is naturally fire resistant, warm, and durable.

Shopping For Eco Friendly Upholstery Fabric

So, where do you buy eco-friendly fabric finishes for your furniture? Here are some great eco-friendly fabric furniture suppliers for you to try out in your quest for a green couch or armchair:

  • Natural Territory - This company prides itself on sourcing only stylish, timeless, eco-friendly furnishings made with eco friendly fabrics, zero-emissions paints, FSC-certified woods, and other organic materials.
  • Furnature - Known for its environmental sustainability, this company carries a wide range of eco-friendly furniture options made with organic cotton, hemp, natural blends, wool, mohair, and untreated cotton.
  • Eclectic Home - With an emphasis on green and health, this company offers furniture made by local artisans made without toxic finishes, fire retardants, and other unhealthy ingredients.
  • Bean Products - If you're looking for something a little less formal for your living or media room, try out these products made from hemp, organic cotton, and other natural ingredients like beans! They also carry more traditional furniture like armchairs and mattresses.
  • Zola Furnishigs - Made with low-impact, sustainably products, natural, organic, and recyclable materials, Zola's upholstered furniture line-up is both stylish and sustainable.
  • GreenSage Store - This eco company uses only sustainable fabrics, including organic cotton, hemp and hemp blended fabrics, as well as flax.
  • A Natural Home - This company is a wholesale eco fabric furniture company, carrying pieces made from organic, natural, and sustainable materials in the USA by a collection of families in Ohio.

If you're not able to find the perfect eco-fabric furniture at the vendors listed above, you may be able to seek out green fabric furniture options at conventional furniture retailers.

Online directories like EcoBusinessLinks also have a wealth of options from which to choose. Just be sure to ask whether they have a line of furniture made with natural, sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, or wool.

Then sit back and settle into the comfort of your eco friendly fabric furniture!