Color, size, price, style and comfort are factors most of us zero in on when buying furniture. You may also want to add eco-friendly to your list as most furniture contains materials and chemicals that are unhealthy for you and the planet. The good news is that Baltimore has plenty of local spots to buy both stylish and green furniture.
Top things to look for in green furniture:
Chemical-free: Most furniture contains a surprising number of chemicals in the foam cushions, fabrics, plastics and woods. Research reveals that chemicals from flame retardants, stain repellents, glues and paints wind up being released into our homes and eventually accumulate in our bodies. Green furniture often lists the eco-friendly materials used so you have a better idea of what you’re bringing into your home beside the furniture.
Sustainable wood and materials: Look for furniture brands built with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood. Not only does this certification mean wood was from cut from environmentally managed forests around the world, but also that local community and worker rights are respected. Most important is that FSC-certified wood is cut from monitored forests which ensures the FSC standards are actually met; often a challenge with foreign furniture products.
Where to shop in Baltimore for green furniture:
The House Downtown
A great stop on your green furniture sojourn is The House Downtown in the Belvedere Square. This store carries a large eco-furniture selection of Lee Industries, Cisco Brothers, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and Hickory Chair products. Remember to also check out each line’s catalogs which affords you the exact piece and fabric you want to be delivered directly to the store. When shopping for green furniture, a tip from The House Downtown’s owner Stephanie Gamble is to buy American-made furniture, “U.S. manufacturers have higher standards so your furnishings will last longer and you’ll have the assurance the pieces were made with quality materials.”
The House Downtown carries Lee Industries, which has been leading the field for decades in creating eco-friendly furniture. Lee Industries was a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, a group that was key in drawing furniture manufacturers into the greener mindset. Also check out the hard-to-find Cisco Brothers line of contemporary furniture at The House Downtown. Cisco Brothers furniture is so great looking, you’d never know the company prides itself on creating healthy furniture.
With Su Casa’s four stores in Fells Point, Ellicott City, Towson and Dewey Beach, Delaware, you can shop green close to your home. According to Su Casa’s owner Nick Johnson, “What we really look for are stylish furnishings that are also sourced from companies who make sustainable pieces.” Su Casa carries the hard-to-find Havea Grove brand of green mattress line that uses all-natural products. Look for Su Casa’s newest product: re-purposed teak shipping pallet tables. Nick Johnson shares, “We finally figured out how to break down these amazing teak wood shipping pallets and create one-of-a-kind tables.”
If online shopping is your thing, check out bambeco, Baltimore’ own eco-furnishings website. Bambeco offers a one-stop shop for green furnishings across the home. Bambeco’s toxic-free products are shipped carbon-free to your home. “We had a selfish desire for our customers to get stylish and affordable furnishings while still doing something better and using green materials. We don’t want to rip down forests without consideration,” adds bambeco’s CEO and co-founder Susan Aplin. Bambeco carries some of the coolest holiday gifts. Check out the bamboo amplifier for iPods and the bamboo solar calculator.
The ultimate in recycled furniture is buying pre-owned. Charm City has a host of well-appointed consignment stores that carry high-end furnishings that look and feel brand new. Situated close together in the Timonium area, Great Finds and Design, Cornerstone and the Clearing House carry large selections of pre-owned contemporary furniture. Buying pre-owned means no new materials were used which lightens your furniture’s eco-footprint for sure. Also check out Baltimore’s own Baltidome, a non-profit website helping Baltimore go green. The site offers a detailed list of Baltimore’s antique stores.
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Laurel Peltier is a freelance writer. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.