IS there such a thing as ‘organic’ upholstery?
The confusion arises when we go to our knowledge of ‘certified organic’ products. Most of us are familiar with organic foods and organic fibers like cotton, but how does this apply to what lies beneath the fabric of an upholstered chair?
I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a 100% ‘certified organic’ piece of furniture. This is partially because many of the fibers used in such furniture grow naturally without the use of pesticides or chemicals, so there is no need to certify them. Hemp, jute & flax fall into this category, and in fact you’ll often see them blended with organic cotton in fabrics. Wood may be certified as well, but not by the same standards as fiber. The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) is one organization that provides certification for lumber stating that the source trees are farmed in a sustainable manner.
So… when I see a piece of furniture labeled as ‘organic’, I assume that it probably contains certified organic materials where the term is applicable, as well as naturally grown materials that do not require toxins to produce.
I can’t address natural materials without mentioning fine traditional upholstery. Think: meticulously shaped seating elements using jute, horsehair and other natural fibers. This is the centuries-old craft that comes to mind for many of us when we think about antique upholstery pieces. Traditional upholstery techniques predate the use of foam and polyester that’s common in modern day upholstery, and thus may accurately be referred to as non-toxic.
Latex Foam: Organic vs Natural?
Latex foam for upholstery has inspired a deluge of questions in recent months, especially over flame retardants. It’s easy to get confused by the use of the term ‘natural’, which has become as unreliable in the latex industry as it is in the food industry. Because many questions about latex have come to me directly due to my specialized work in non-toxic upholstery, I’ve been compelled to do the research so I can answer your concerns as accurately as possible.
The Good News: There is now a source for organic latex, certified by the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS). For those seeking the security of certified products, I am excited to announce that I’ve finally located a trusted supplier who sells both organic and 100% natural latex as well as more affordable synthetic blended latex – ALL free of fillers and additives, with NO Flame Retardants!
Because latex foam products are historically made for the bedding industry, it’s easy to find 6″ thick mattress sizes, but ordering custom-cut upholstery sized pieces is another story. That’s why Living Home Furniture is setting up an online store where you can order either organic or blended latex foam cut to the size you need for your particular project. Sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know when the store up and running (scheduled for the end of April 2015). You’ll also receive upholstery tips, tutorials and schedules for upcoming courses for using alternative materials in upholstery.