How to buy a new couch
For the first time in decades, shoppers can now walk into some major retail stores and buy a couch made without toxic flame retardants. As the Sunday Chicago Tribune on January 23rd this health hazard hidden in our furniture may be on its way out.
Look for a furniture tag that reads: “the upholstery materials in this product contain NO added flame retardant chemicals.”
In 2012, the State of California acknowledged that safe furniture is practical and possible without added chemicals. As more consumers including Kaiser Permanente demanded safer alternatives, manufacturers have started stepping up to meet the demand. That’s the power of green purchasing. (See more about OEC’s work on purchasing policies.)
The ripple effect goes far beyond our living rooms. From manufacture through disposal, flame retardant chemicals linked to cancer, infertility and developmental problems end up in our air, water, homes and workplaces. Because these chemicals are easily released from the polyurethane foam in couch cushions and other furniture into air and dust, they create health hazards for our families, our friends, manufacturers, and even the firefighters who protect us when something goes wrong.
If “clean and safe” furniture is the right thing to do, shouldn’t children’s products also be free from hazardous flame retardants—and other hazardous chemicals? Shouldn’t all children have safe environments—not just those families who have the information they need to read labels and buy new, safer furniture?
That’s why Oregon Environmental Council is a champion of the Toxic Free Kids Act of 2015. We need to know when children’s products–beyond the couch–contain toxic chemicals, and we must insist on safer alternatives in the future.
Ask for furniture made without added flame retardant chemicals at stores that have committed to eliminating them: Crate and Barrel, Room & Board, Pottery Barn, West Elm, IKEA, La-Z-Boy, The Futon Shop, Scandinavian Designs, Ashley Furniture and Wal-Mart.