Here is a link to an article I found on the Seventh Generation website. It is a nice, concise guide for what to look for (and not buy) when shopping for furniture. I wish I would have read this before we bought our last couch!
Any new furniture we buy I will try to adhere to these guidelines, especially taking care to avoid those toxic flame retardants in foam. And I was happy to read that IKEA uses foam that doesn't contain those chemicals, as this is an affordable option for many folks.
Here is the link to the full article, and here is the list of guidelines:
"*Choose furniture that contains as much solid wood as possible. Composite woods like plywood and particleboard are made from glues that contain formaldehyde, which is slowly emitted in vapor form as its host materials age.
*Look for wood that’s certified by organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to come from sustainably-harvested, well-managed forests.
*Look for finishes and laminates that are free of volatile organic compounds; they won’t release hazardous fumes when new.
*For sofas and chairs, choose natural stuffings like cotton batting over synthetic foams. Most foams are treated with brominated flame retardants, which enter a home’s environment as the foam breaks down over time.
*If natural fiber batting is not an available or affordable option, look for foam products that are free of brominated flame retardants and phthalates. IKEA is one company that has phased out these hazardous materials from its products.
*Choose natural fiber upholstery when possible.
*Don’t buy furniture that’s been treated for stain resistance. These treatments use unhealthy chemicals that can pollute your home’s environment. If they’re offered as an option, refuse them.
*Consider sustainable alternative materials for your furnishings like bamboo, reclaimed wood, and recycled metal or plastic.
*Consider reupholstering and restoring your existing furniture instead of replacing it.
*Another option is to choose antique furniture, which requires no new resources to make.
*One organization that certifies furniture for environmental safety is Greenguard. For more information about their programs and certified products visit www.greenguard.org."
Thanks, Seventh Generation!